In the “The Cosmopolitan Canopy,” Elijah Anderson uses observation to examine the role of the cosmopolitan canopy in reducing social distance and tensions in racially, ethnically, and socially diverse communities. He defines a cosmopolitan canopy as a place where people from…
for people to conduct folk ethnography, where they can know more about the “other” in ways that they could not have had experienced in other settings. Anderson asserts that folk ethnography, in turn, enables people to expand how they construct social behaviour and respond to it, which can either challenge or reinforce deeply-held beliefs about race, ethnicity, gender, and class.
The article is interesting in commenting on how people negotiate their and other people’s identities in cosmopolitan canopies. For instance, Anderson noted that, in other settings, some people would have been quite reserved in their behaviours, but in cosmopolitan canopies, they are more relaxed and civil to one another. These canopies provide an opportunity for people to truly conduct folk ethnography that can help them learn more about other groups and to also be more aware of their own beliefs and biases about these groups. The article also informs my research by showing how a diverse setting can promote a more respectful or tolerant environment through encouraging social interactions, no matter how brief and superficial they are. Anderson seems to offer a way for resolving social conflicts through encouraging the formation of cosmopolitan canopies that multiply shared experiences and enable people to observe one another and to hopefully reflect on these observations.
The article compels me to underline the role of the environment in promoting equality. Apparently, it is possible to design communities so that cosmopolitan canopies are made and maximised for the purposes of promoting greater social interactions, and optimistically, developing more positive evaluations of other groups that can dispel harmful stereotypes. My questions are: (1) If Anderson already describes the main “ingredients” of a cosmopolitan canopy, does this mean that reproducing these canopies across America, especially in areas where social tensions are high, can result to more interactions and better ...
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