Cosmopolitan Localism

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1. Gideon Kossoff:

"Cosmopolitan Localism is the theory and practice of inter-regional and planet-wide net-working between place-based communities who share knowledge, technology, and re-sources. It offers a timely and powerful alternative to globalization: the planet-wide process through which human affairs –in particular, economies– become interconnected in ways that degrade ecosystems at a local and planetary level, undermine local communities and the social fabric, and erase cultural diversity (Cavanagh & Mander, 2004; Ritzer, 2010; Sachs, 1999). Cosmopolitan Localism suggests a new social, political, cultural, economic and tech-nological “settlement” that could help address many of the 21st century’s wicked problems (Buchanan, 1995; Coyne, 200; Rittel & Webber, 1973). It also suggests that we do not have to choose between our immediate, geographically proximate community and the larger com-munity of humanity. Indeed, we cannot afford to make this choice: the fate of humanity and planetary ecosystems are inextricably intertwined at the local and global level.In a cosmopolitan-localist system, we can have attachments, commitments, loyalties, and a sense of belonging at multiple levels of scale: to our locales, other locales, and the plan-et as a whole. These locales would be the setting for rich, place-based lifestyles that are united and networked to address the complex issues of the 21st century through a spirit of cooperation, interdependence, and mutual learning. This vision of place-based, diverse lifestyles contrasts with globalization’s drive towards homogenization –its promotion of similar lifestyles, regardless of particular cultures, histories, and ecosystems (Sachs, 1999).Cosmopolitan Localism is situated within the visions area of the Transition Design frame-work (Irwin, 2015). It embodies a utopian sensibility in that it contrasts what could be with what is (a desirable future vs. the dysfunctional present) but it is not utopian in the sense that it is detached from reality, or that it depicts an impossible scenario: there are many indications that a “spirit of Cosmopolitan Localism” is emerging within the con-temporary landscape. This is partly evidenced by the increasing number of initiatives and movements that challenge dominant forms of governance and business. " (

2. 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." (


Gideon Kossoff:

"Cosmopolitan Localism was first articulated in the 1990s (Sachs, 1999). It can be under-stood as an expression of the socially and politically radical spirit of the previous decades, but since that time the concept has been explored only sporadically. This paper argues that Cosmopolitan Localism can be advanced through the integration of two separate, but highly developed, traditions of cosmopolitanism (Brown & Held, 2010; Delanty, 2012; 2017) and localism (Douthwaite, 1996; Hopkins, 2008; Jacobs, 1970; Max-Neef, 1991; Nor-berg-Hodge, 2000). For this reason, the evolution and basic principles of each tradition (as discussed by economists, anthropologists, philosophers, and activists) are discussed in the following section. It is hoped that Cosmopolitan Localism can incorporate the insights of each tradition, whilst addressing their respective shortcomings." (


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." (

The Vision of Cosmopolitan Localism

Gideon Kossoff:

"The conceptual framework of the Domains of Everyday Life helps define a cosmopolitan localist vision of multi-scalar, or nested, networks of self-organizing, semi-autonomous, and place-based communities that are empowered to create the good life in the image of their own cultures and histories. The challenge of Transition Design is to help restore and reinvent households, neighborhoods, cities, and regions, by enabling their inhabitants to recover control over the satisfaction of their needs and by redesigning satisfiers so that they are synergistic and placed-based. This, in turn, requires the redesign of socio-techni-cal systems, so that they become decentralized, distributed and networked. This vision responds to many themes within localism, cosmopolitanism and Cosmopoli-tan Localism that need further development. A number of concepts frequently used in these discourses (community, locality, place, lifestyle, networks, needs, reinhabitation, resilience) are clarified and become more nuanced. It addresses the question, posed by localism, of how to conceptualize needs. As people strive to satisfy their needs in different ways, they come to create different kinds of community, different kinds of localness, different kinds of place, different kinds of lifestyles and different kinds of networks.

These differences correspond to the nested levels of scale of everyday life –household, neighborhood, city, region– at which needs are satisfied in different ways. Also, the concepts of resilience and reinhabitation can be applied with increased focus: each level of scale of everyday life needs to become more resilient and each needs to be reinhabited. The emphasis on the development of vital networks of everyday life, within and between communities, and the fostering of mutually supportive, diverse, place-based lifestyles and cultures, is an expression of the relational ontology that is at the heart of the contem-porary cosmopolitan imaginary. Networking between households, neighborhoods, cities and regions would enable the sharing of skills, knowledge and, where appropriate, re-sources, and would give everyday life a cosmopolitan dimension. Finally, this vision pro-poses a complex, multi-level and multi-directional networking process that connects the local (Domains of household, neighborhood, city, and region) to the global (the planet), which is the essence of Cosmopolitan Localism." (