On a Glocal City

Text: Bill Psarras © 2015

When we speak of the glocal character of something or someone, we refer on both the local and global qualities of it. It is an interesting portmanteau that probably academic Joshua Meyrowitz (among others) brought it in the academic discourse, when he begun to use such a concept in his talks (mid-1980’s) one of which was published later as ‘The Changing Global Landscape’ (1991) (see also Meyrowitz, 2005) . Throughout 20th century, it is the wave of history, the evolution of things and cultures that has gone from the local and the place-bounded to the global and the virtual. However, our everyday life is deeply interwoven with local and global threads; experienced in every possible sense, in various ways that we do not even notice it.

To echo Meyrowitz (2005), our experience of the city is local. Someone walks, senses through his/her body in a way that becomes a social agent that affects and is affected by a network of things. This emerging interaction with humans and non-humans inserts the walker into fused situations and ambiances, something that results into a whole spectrum of emotions for us. In other words, the walker is always a place-bounded figure, or maybe not? The globalized and urbanized shift on everyday life in the city has brought a huge wave of communication systems, technologies (embodied or not) – briefly described as everywhere-media. This has made apparent a shift with cultural, political, economic and even sensorial implications. City is not what we knew once upon a time, our physical experience is local but our perception has been extended in various parts of the globe at the same time (see also the 20th century huge impact of M. McLuhan’s on media extensions | McLuhan, 1964).

To describe glocality is to ‘be inside and outside at the same time‘ (Meyrowitz, 2005). We act in local ways but also influenced by global qualities. These global qualities refer to any television, internet or other communication system that surround and influence us via endless flows of visual information. Thus, even if we think that interactions happen into the everyday city and its physical space, they are also occur and being shaped in larger frameworks of online experience. The citizen in London, Athens, New York, Singapore, Sydney, Rio or Tokyo walks and in different physical settings but all have more things in common though such global interconnections. To alter Lefebvre’s (1991) social production of space, they all also contribute in a wider global production of space.

Arriving in what I could term “the glocal city” of the 21st century, the co-existence of both local and global aspects is encountered. The place-bounded character cannot be taken for granted, yet it is an acknowledgement of the oscillating character of a fused local and global, which makes apparent emerging glocalities. Maybe the way glocal comes into discussion renders it a third platform to release any tension between local/global dipole.


  • Lefebvre, H. (1991). The Production of Space, trans. Nicholson-Smith, D. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Meyrowitz, J. (2005). The rise of glocality: New senses of place and identity in the global village. In Nyiri, K. (ed.) A sense of place: The global and the local in mobile communication, Vienna: Passagen Verlag, pp. 21-31.
  • McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill.
The Glocal Image Breeder [Artist:  Jer Thorp, 2008]

The Glocal Image Breeder [Artist: Jer Thorp, 2008]

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