Cosmopolitan Localism

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Ezio Manzini:

"What appears is a kind of cosmopolitan localism (Sachs, 1998, Manzini, Vugliano, 2000, Manzini, Jegou, 2003), intended as the result of a particular condition characterised by the balance between being localised (rooted in a place and in the community related to that place), and open to global flows of ideas, information, people, things and money (Appandurai, 1990). This is quite a delicate balance as, at any time, one of the two sides can prevail over the other leading to an anti-historical closure or, on the opposite side, it can lead to a destructive openness of the local social fabric and of its peculiar features.

Creative communities, cooperative networks and cosmopolitan localism are, as it has been said, the building blocks for a new vision: the vision of a sustainable society that can be defined as a Multi-local Society. I.e. a network of interconnected communities and places, at the same time, open and localised." (


Ezio Manzini:

"In the framework of the multi-local society the dominant ideas of “global” and “local”, and the ones of “large” and “small” are challenged. In fact, for its nature the multi-local society is an highly connected world. And, in this kind of world, the small is not small: it is instead (or it can be instead) a knot in a network (the real dimension of which is given by the number of links with other elements of the system). Similarly, and for the same reasons, the local is not local, but it is (or it can be) a locally based, cosmopolitan community. In this conceptual and practical framework, the multi-local society appears as a society based on communities and places that are, at the same time, strong in their own identity, embedded in a physical place and open and connected to other places/communities .

In other words: in the multi-local society, communities and places are junctions of a network, points of connection among short networks, which generate and regenerate the local social and production fabric and long networks, which connect that place and that community with the rest of the world (De Rita, Bonomi, 1998). Junctions that connect “long global networks” with “short local networks” and that, doing so, provide support to organizational forms and production and service systems based on the subsidiary principle (that is: to do on a larger scale only what cannot be done on a smaller scale, i.e. at a local level).

Today, the vision of the multi-local society is still far form the mainstream, but it indicates a direction that, for several reasons, can be successfully undertaken. In fact, not only it is locally practicable, given that, as it has been said, it is based on real cases of social innovation (the creative communities and the collaborative networks), but also it is coherent with (another) strong driver of change: the rise of the distributed economies as a potentially successful option." (