Through the years many changes have taken place in the various areas of society. These changes have also affected the very way of life that individuals in different parts of the globe have. This kind of cultural alteration is widely observable in the everyday activities of individuals. As a result, even the organization of a society’s culture has also evolved. This could be exemplified by the existence of the idea of a “world culture” wherein locals and cosmopolitans could be found within it (Dharwadker 1-4).
This only goes to show that the relationship of individuals among each other and the society at large have taken a different turn. Being the case, it is essential that due attention and consideration should be given to these changes as it tends to affect the lives of people. Based on the article of Ulf Hannerz entitled: “Cosmopolitans and Locals in World Culture”, there is now a new phenomenon that exists, which is referred to as the world culture. World culture is characterized by an organization of diversity rather than the usual replication of uniformity.
This does not mean that there is a complete homogenization wherein there are similar systems of meaning and expression but rather there is interconnectedness among various regions and its people. World culture means that 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” (Hannerz 237). The world culture is formed and established by means of the increase in the interconnectedness of various local cultures and the development of culture, which is not rooted or based upon a single territory.
As a result, all are becoming sub-cultures within the wider whole. This coincides with the idea that cultures are best understood within the context of their cultural; surrounding rather than in isolation. However, the global interconnectedness of diverse people has different ways of relating with each other. This adage could be exemplified by the existence of cosmopolitans and locals (Hannerz 237). For almost half a century, the distinction between cosmopolitan and local has been part of the sociological vocabulary ever since Robert Merton developed it in one of his studies.
During that time, the difference between these two concepts is only based upon national context. The cosmopolitans of the town were referred to as those who thought and lived their lives within the structure of the nation as compared with basing it within the structure of pure locality (Hannerz 237). Nevertheless, this connotation has changed because the culture and social structure have developed to become more internationally integrated. The term cosmopolitan does not simply refer to people who move or travel in just about any place in the world.
Cosmopolitan entails the perspective of relationships to a plurality of cultures, which are understood as distinctive entities. In a stricter sense, cosmopolitan includes a stance toward diversity itself wherein an individual’s experience is composed of the coexistence of cultures. The orientation of cosmopolitanism is largely based in the willingness of an individual to interact with the other. It is a search for contrasts rather than uniformity wherein an individual has this openness for the intellectual and aesthetic aspects of other cultures.
Moreover, cosmopolitan is also a matter of competence, which is the state of readiness of an individual to penetrate into another culture by means of listening, looking, intuiting and reflecting. Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the cosmopolitan may embrace the alien culture but he or she is mindful not to become committed to it. Simply put, he or she always knows the way out (Hannerz 239-240). On the other hand, the influence of locals is grounded not on what they know but rather on whom they knew.
Based on the classic study of Robert Merton, the influence of locals is not dependent upon their knowledge of other cultures since they are mostly confined within a particular territory. They give more value in the people that they knew wherein they become tied with particular others of with a unique community setting (Hannerz 246). Locals always have an attachment to their home territories. Due to this, they have a closed and defensive attitude towards their interaction with other cultures.
This kind of attitude is observable in different areas, ranging from “terms of trade to support for fundamentalist organizations to attitudes about religion or culture to expressions of tolerance or hostility toward immigrants (Roudometof 9). The article of Ulf Hannerz gave more emphasis cosmopolitans as compared with the locals. This is due to the fact that people like the cosmopolitans play a more important role in realizing the there is indeed the existence of one world culture. The attitudes of cosmopolitans pave the way for a degree of coherence wherein they are more open to understanding other cultures.
Hannerz asserted that if only locals exist in the world, then, world culture would merely be the sum of its parts (Hannerz 249). However, he also pointed out that the current situation of events makes it difficult to conform to the ideal type of a local. The ideal local is simply confine in a single territory. There are cases wherein some people such as: exiles and migrant workers are taken away from the home territory of their local culture but they still put themselves in the approximation of it (Hannerz 249). The locals and the cosmopolitans are not always distinct from each other because they also have their similarity.
The factor that they have in common is their interests in the survival of cultural diversity. For the locals, they perceive diversity as a matter of personal access to different cultures. This allows them to only have a little intrinsic interest, which is also the principle that makes them stick to their respective cultures. For the cosmopolitans, they give much value in diversity (Hannerz 250). However, they can only achieve such diversity if other people will be allowed to carve out special niches for their cultures and preserve it.
In this sense, locals are important for the existence of cosmopolitans because they serve as the special niches of cultures that represent the cosmopolitans’ idea of diversity. Works Cited Dharwadker, Vinay. “Cosmopolitan Geographies. ” New York: Routledge, 2001. Hannerz, Ulf. “Cosmopolitans and Locals in World Culture. ” Theory Culture Society 7 (1990); 238-250. Roudometof, Victor. “Transnational Social Spaces and the Cosmopolitan-Local Continuum. ” 2002. 23 February 2009 <http://www. allacademic. com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_ citation /1/0/6/0/8/pages106087/p106087-1. php>.
Subject: Global Studies,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 October 2016
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