Cosmopolitan localism or Cosmolocalism[1] is a social innovation approach to community development that seeks to link local and global communities through resilient infrastructures that bring production and consumption closer together, building on distributed systems.[2] The concept of cosmopolitan localism was pioneered by Wolfgang Sachs, a scholar in the field of environment, development, and globalization.[3] Sachs is known as one of the many followers of Ivan Illich and his work has influenced the green and ecological movements. Contrary to glocalisation, cosmolocalism moves from locality to universality, acknowledging the local as the locus of social co-existence and emphasizing the potential of global networking beyond capitalist market rules.[4]

Cosmopolitan localism fosters a global network of mutually supportive communities (neighbourhoods, villages, towns, cities and regions) who share and exchange knowledge, ideas, skills, technology, culture and (where socially and ecologically sustainable) resources.[5] The approach seeks to foster a creative, reciprocal relationship between the local and the global. Cosmopolitan localism aims to address problems that emerge from globalization—namely, the subsuming of local cultures and economies into a homogenised and unsustainable global system[6][7]—while simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls of localization, such as parochialism and isolationism.[8][9]

The self-organization of people with access to the fostered global network, collaborate and produce shared resources and their own governance systems. This system is built around a commons and entails the social practices of creating and governing a resource through the institutions that a community of producers or users creates and manages. They manifest in various formats, from the co-management of natural resources (e.g., fisheries, pastures) to the co-creation and co-management of digitally shared content. Initiatives such as the free encyclopedia Wikipedia, which has displaced the corporate-organized Encyclopedia Britannica and Microsoft Encarta, and the Apache HTTP Server, the leading software in the web-server market, have exemplified digital commons. The beginning of commons almost exclusively contained digital forms of virtual projects and communities. The later movements of commons have now also included local manufacturing and the entanglement between analog and digital technologies across natural and digital commons, physical and digital spaces, activities, and time.[10]

Italian design and social innovation educator and academic Ezio Manzini describes cosmopolitan localism as having the potential to generate a new sense of place. With cosmopolitan localism, places are not considered isolated entities, but nodes in short-distance and long-distance networks which globally link local communities in distributed networks of shared exchange, bringing production and consumption closer together. The short-distance networks generate and regenerate the local socio-economic fabric and the long-distance networks connect a particular community to the rest of the world.[11] This form of cosmolocalism is rooted in an emerging productive model that is based on the concept of the digital commons and the motto "design global, manufacture local" (DGML).[12]

Cosmopolitan localism is a topic of focus for transition designers who explore design-led societal transition toward more sustainable futures.[13] It captures the dynamic of dispersed technology initiatives, which exhibit conceptualisations of living, working and making around the commons. Cosmopolitan localism or cosmolocalism has been viewed as a structural framework for organising production by prioritising socio-ecological well-being over corporate profits, over-production and excess consumption.[14] Others have argued that cosmolocalism advances alternatives that could potentially undermine dominant capitalist imaginary significations, attitudes and modalities. It can lead the way for a transition towards a post-capitalist, commons-centric economy and society where value is collectively created and accessible to all. In order for cosmolocalism to become more than a blueprint for a mode of production, the autonomy of local communities and individuals is essential.[15]

See also



  1. ^ Schismenos, A., Niaros, V., Lemos, L. (21 September 2020). "Cosmolocalism: Understanding the Transitional Dynamics Towards Post-Capitalism" (PDF). TripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique: 670–684. doi:10.31269/triplec.v18i2.1188. ISSN 1726-670X. S2CID 226359162. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  2. ^ Escobar, Arturo (2018-03-22). Designs for the pluriverse : radical interdependence, autonomy, and the making of worlds. Durham. ISBN 9780822370901. OCLC 983824383.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ Sachs, Wolfgang (2015) Planet Dialectics: Explorations in Environment and Development. 2nd Edition. London: Zed Books
  4. ^ Schismenos, Alexandros; Niaros, Vasilis; Lemos, Lucas (2021). "A Genealogy of Cosmolocalism". In Ramos, José; Bauwens, Michel; Ede, Sharon; Wong, James (eds.). Cosmolocal Reader. Futures Lab. pp. 37–51. ISBN 978-0-9953546-3-0.
  5. ^ Kossoff, G. (2019). Cosmopolitan Localism: The Planetary Networking of Everyday Life in Place. Cuarderno Journal 73: Transition Design Monograph: 61-65. doi:
  6. ^ Ritzer, George (2004). The McDonaldization of society (Rev. new century ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press. ISBN 978-0761988113. OCLC 53315154.
  7. ^ When Corporations Rule the World., Korten, David C., Burns, Traber, Audible Studios on Brilliance audio, 2016, ISBN 9781511397162, OCLC 933522026{{citation}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Bookchin, Murray (1999). The Murray Bookchin reader. Biehl, Janet, 1953-. Montréal: Black Rose Books. ISBN 978-1551641195. OCLC 41976257.
  9. ^ Harvey, David (1990). The condition of postmodernity : an enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Oxford [England]: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0631162926. OCLC 18747380.
  10. ^ Kostakis, Vasilis; Pantazis, Alekos (2021-04-13). "Is 'Deschooling Society' Possible? Notes from the Field". Postdigital Science and Education. 3 (3): 686–692. doi:10.1007/s42438-021-00228-6. S2CID 234874364.
  11. ^ Ezio, Manzini. Design, when everybody designs : an introduction to design for social innovation. Cambridge, Massachusetts. ISBN 9780262328630. OCLC 904398409.
  12. ^ Kostakis, V.; Niaros, V.; Dafermos, G.; Bauwens, M. (2015). "Design global, manufacture local: Exploring the contours of an emerging productive model". Futures. 73: 126–135. doi:10.1016/j.futures.2015.09.001. S2CID 43960216.
  13. ^ Irwin, Terry (2015-04-03). "Transition Design: A Proposal for a New Area of Design Practice, Study, and Research". Design and Culture. 7 (2): 229–246. doi:10.1080/17547075.2015.1051829. ISSN 1754-7075. S2CID 117643577.
  14. ^ Kostakis, Vasilis; Niaros, Vasilis; Giotitsas, Chris (2023-06-30). "Beyond global versus local: illuminating a cosmolocal framework for convivial technology development". Sustainability Science. 18 (5): 2309–2322. doi:10.1007/s11625-023-01378-1. ISSN 1937-0709.
  15. ^ Schismenos, Alexandros; Niaros, Vasilis; Lemos, Lucas (2020-09-21). "Cosmolocalism: Understanding the Transitional Dynamics Towards Post-Capitalism" (PDF). TripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique: 670–684. doi:10.31269/triplec.v18i2.1188. ISSN 1726-670X.