62 Cosmopolitans and Locals in World Culture

Ulf Hannerz

There is now a world culture, but we had better make sure that we understand what this means. It is marked by an organization of diversity rather than by a replication of uniformity. No total homogenization of systems of meaning and expression has occurred, nor does it appear likely that there will be one any time soon. But the world has become one network of social relationships, and between its different regions there is a flow of meanings as well as of people and goods.

The world culture is created through the increasing interconnectedness of varied local cultures, as well as through the development of cultures without a clear anchorage in any one territory. These are all becoming sub-cultures, as it were, within the wider whole; cultures which are in important ways better understood in the context of their cultural surroundings than in isolation. But to this global interconnected diversity people can relate in different ways. For one thing, there are cosmopolitans, and there are locals.


The Cosmopolitan Perspective: Orientation and Competence

We often use the term ‘cosmopolitan' rather loosely, to describe just about anybody who moves about in the world. But of such people, some would seem more cosmopolitan than others, and others again hardly cosmopolitan at all. I have before me an old cutting from the International Herald Tribune (16 October 1985) about travel and trade (the latter fairly often illicit) ...

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