Globalizing forms of elite sociability


Bruno Cousin, Sébastien Chauvin (2014)

Globalizing forms of elite sociability: Varieties of cosmopolitanism in Paris social clubs.

Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(12): 2209-2225.

This article examines the cultivation of transnational connections, cosmopolitanism and global class consciousness among members of elite social clubs in Paris. Drawing from interviews with members, it compares how – according to their respective characteristics – various social clubs promote different kinds of bourgeois cosmopolitanism, while rejecting the more recent internationalism of upper-middle-class service clubs such as the Rotary. Each club’s peculiar ethos, practice and representations of social capital are related to the features of competing clubs through relations of mutual symbolic distinction; for example, some clubs emphasize the ‘genuineness’ of links while stigmatizing others for the accent they put on utility. The varied forms of cosmopolitanism that they promote partly replicate these logics of distinction, eliciting struggles over the authenticity or inauthenticity of transnational connections. Yet, clubs also oppose each other according to the unequal emphasis that they place on international ties per se, which creates a competing axiology within the symbolic economy of social capital accumulation.