On Canaries, Icebergs and the public sphere: The pragmatic compromise of religious pluralism

Mike Grimshaw(1*)

(1) Canterbury University, New Zealand
(*) Corresponding Author


The return of religion in western society has resulted in the expression of what is often termed post-secular socio-politics, closely linked to increasingly pluralistic societies that result from globalization.  While the public sphere has, in the West, tended to follow a ‘WASP’- derived model of post-Westphalian secular public sphere and the privatization of religion, this model is increasingly under critique and complaint. How might pluralism and the expression of religion be re-thought and re-encountered? This paper, engaging with the work of Ulrich Beck (2004) on “realistic cosmopolitanism” argues for a more localised, urbanised approach and understanding. The public sphere is actually a series of everyday pragmatic engagements and experiences that require a more nuanced evaluation. Critiquing the utopian agendas of much cosmopolitan theory, this paper asks two questions: Firstly, what can the return of religion tell us about late modern society? Secondly, what changes may be necessary to re-engage (with) pluralistic public spheres – and societies? Arising in response to the increasing discussion and debate as how societies can seek to engage with growing religious pluralism, using the central metaphors of ‘the iceberg’ and ‘the canary’ as hermeneutic tools, undertaken within a wider Taubesean hermeneutical reading, it argues for a rethought, pragmatic cosmopolitics that is intermestic; that is, both international and domestic in focus and response.


Bruno Latour; cosmopolitanism; David Held; diversity; religious pluralism; secular space; Ulrich Beck.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15575/kt.v5i1.20508


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