Home > Free Essays > Sociology > Racism > “The Cosmopolitan Canopy” a Book by Elijah Anderson
4 min
Cite This

“The Cosmopolitan Canopy” a Book by Elijah Anderson Term Paper


Brief Summary

Elijah Anderson is one of the best urban ethnographers. Anderson has chosen Philadelphia as the setting for his investigation on the complexity of urban social life. Philadelphia is a good choice because people leaving in this city come from different social, racial, and gender backgrounds. Philadelphia is also home to immigrants who have come from other nations. He has chosen cosmopolitan canopies such as Reading market, Rittenhouse Square, Reading Terminal, and 30th Street Station for his investigation.

Anderson Aims to advance arguments and analyze how the society interacts in an urban setting. He aims to show his students, some of whom have already started working on their own ethnographies, how the City Centre of Philadelphia is characterized by different interactive orientation. The difference in interaction is mostly as a result of the background (whether social, racial, or gender) of individuals living in the area.

Anderson’s Effectiveness in His Work

In The Cosmopolitan Canopy, Anderson thoughtfully dissects and analyses the interactional dynamics. He achieves this by analyzing the challenging racial differences in the society. Anderson takes the reader through Philadelphia City Centre. He reveals and exemplifies how the people living in this City interact across gender, racial, ethnic, and social boundaries. Similar Canopies can create synergy. Synergy helps the canopies to operate. If similar canopies are operating together, they form a cosmopolitan zone. A cosmopolitan zone refers to a space characterized by people with almost similar interactive orientation. Anderson book provides a different understanding of the racial relations in present day. He achieves this by providing a path breaking research on the interracial settings. Cosmopolitan canopies in an urban environment give a break to the social and economic tension that is normally exhibited in cities such as Philadelphia. It provides an environment for diverse people to gather and interact freely regardless of their racial, gender, or social background. Anderson has conducted a detailed research of the public interactions in an urban environment, which is mostly dictated by racial, class, and gender differences.

The Book’s Explanatory framework

The Cosmopolitan Canopy is an excellent description of the socially safe and unsafe urban environments. The writer describes various scenes in Philadelphia such as Reading market, Rittenhouse Square, Reading Terminal, and 30th Street Station. Anderson starts by describing these cosmopolitan canopies as spaces where every person is encourage interacting freely. The writer then, outlines why African Americans find it necessary to create ethno spaces; spaces where people of color can be themselves. Anderson finally concludes that every individual has a certain level of either ethno or Cosmo orientation. Every person should try to find out where on belongs.

Anderson’s Methodology Effectiveness

In his work, the Yale sociology professor successfully takes the reader through an ethnographic expedition in the City Centre. He uses Philadelphia as an urban city to portray how people interact across racial, gender, and social boundaries. First, Anderson takes the reader through the cosmopolitan canopy setting; a public setting such as malls, parks and town squares. In these settings a comfortable and civil interaction is maintained between individual with diverse social, gender, and racial backgrounds. Anderson then tackles the spaces where the canopy changes either from ethnography to cosmopolitan or vice versa. These areas include; the workplace and public transport. Anderson’s gradational treatment of the racial inequality social dynamics and the accurate observations of the politics of the eye contact are very well understandable. In his journals there are sketches and some snippets which offer delight to the audience. Anderson does not concentrate on the level of prevalence of racism in United States.

In his book, Anderson describes a society in Philadelphia characterized by a range of social, gender, and racial differences. Anderson opens a neutral ground for individuals from different racial backgrounds to revise how individuals view people from other racial backgrounds. Anderson demonstrates the mood of racial discrimination and civility cosmopolitanism in the Philadelphia City Center. Anderson insists that under the canopy, black Americans feel more provisional. This is because in these moments, people are able to interact freely regardless of the racial background. In such spaces the potential and restrictions of the cosmopolitanism as a diverse organizing theme are well reflected (Anderson 157). In chapter 5, “The Color Line and The Canopy”, Anderson portrays how the latent form of racial discrimination, especially at the work place threatens the popularity of the canopy.

Cosmos and Ethnos are worldviews interactive orientations; citizens of canopy are characterized by these sets of interactive orientations. These worldviews are full of cultural assumptions. The worldviews respond to the public interracial encounters. People who adopt the ethno view are more cautious of cross-racial issues. These people are always watchful of any evidence of racial discrimination whether conscious or unconscious. Citizens using the cosmopolitan are not as strict in their interpretation. Cosmos are more concerned with the progress achieved in race advancement. Normally, these orientations are not strictly specific and they appear in a wide range. People living in an area and the class they are play a significant role in defining the canopy of a space. People may change from one orientation to the other based on the prevailing situation. It is not easy to conclude whether the cosmopolitan or the ethnocentric canopy dominate the culture of the city. In his work, Anderson makes it look like the ethno orientation of a canopy is different from the cosmopolitan one, he writes that African Americans who prefer the Cosmos orientation often find themselves having to bend over backwards (Anderson 205) to avoid racial misapprehension. They have to be careful and avoid judgmental looks and undesirable service. This indicates how tenancy the canopy can become.

Cosmopolitan canopies are only fortress of openness and civility; they disqualify most of the socially less desirable citizens. This is because of its arrangement and design which precludes the socially discriminated.


In the vibrant atmosphere of canopies operating in close proximity, civility becomes the norm. Nonetheless, situations may arise that threaten and split the canopy. These situations include the nervousness that are exhibited on boarders of class, race, and gender. When these situations exist, the society must work together to ensure that the flexibility of the canopy prevails. In the setting of this book, all kinds of people exist in the society: from homeless to the rich, from the doormen to the cabdrivers. They are all able to co-exist in the setting of this book.

Anderson’s observations are keen and close as he conducts his reviews and offers his journal findings. It portrays how he is fully involved in interactions with a range of socially diverse people in Philadelphia. Anderson gives his own personal opinion on social set-up of African Americans in social and workplace settings.

Works Cited

Anderson, Elijah. The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life. WW Norton & Company, Inc., 2011. Print.

This term paper on “The Cosmopolitan Canopy” a Book by Elijah Anderson was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Term Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2020, June 5). "The Cosmopolitan Canopy" a Book by Elijah Anderson. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-cosmopolitan-canopy-a-book-by-elijah-anderson/

Work Cited

""The Cosmopolitan Canopy" a Book by Elijah Anderson." IvyPanda, 5 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-cosmopolitan-canopy-a-book-by-elijah-anderson/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Cosmopolitan Canopy" a Book by Elijah Anderson." June 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-cosmopolitan-canopy-a-book-by-elijah-anderson/.


IvyPanda. ""The Cosmopolitan Canopy" a Book by Elijah Anderson." June 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-cosmopolitan-canopy-a-book-by-elijah-anderson/.


IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Cosmopolitan Canopy" a Book by Elijah Anderson." June 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-cosmopolitan-canopy-a-book-by-elijah-anderson/.


IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Cosmopolitan Canopy" a Book by Elijah Anderson'. 5 June.

More related papers
Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!