European inventory of
societal values of culture


Globalisation is a concept that describes the ever-increasing interconnectedness of cultural, economic, and political processes around the world. Some scholars place the origins of this megatrend in the period of European colonisation of the Americas at the end of the modern era. Others consider it to have developed in the second half of the 19th century as a consequence of the increased export orientation of industrialised countries. There are also other periodisations of globalisation, extending from 1870 to the present day.

However, current uses of the term usually refer to the period after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the so-called revolutions of 1989–1990, which opened the formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe to the flow of capital from the West. Equally importantly, this initial period of the most recent guise of globalisation coincided with the creation of the World Wide Web and the World Trade Organization’s lowering of trade barriers and consequent global liberalisation of trade.

Technological developments accelerating financial and information flows resulted in multifaceted and complex social changes, differently interpreted by advocates and critics of globalisation. Its proponents tend to interpret it as an inevitable outcome of technological process, leading to positive economic, political, and cultural convergences. On the other hand, its critics argue that it a hegemonic process, antagonistic to local and national economies and cultural identities.

Whichever view we take of it, we should not forget that, in addition to its economic and cultural aspects, the megatrend of globalisation is also always connected to political issues. In this latter aspect, it involves negotiations between nation states, international organisations, and transnational corporations revolving around the regulation of trade and business flows but also concerning cultural activities and identities. Political globalisation also involves attempts to regulate the increased worldwide migrant flows.

Social scientists have described the cultural consequences of globalisation as ‘the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities’ (Giddens, 1990). Such a ‘compression of the world and intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole’ (Robertson, 1992) has had important cultural consequences, such as acceleration of time, time-space distanciation, changed notions of territoriality, and the emergence of global cities (Sassken, 1991). However, most of the discussions regarding the cultural consequences of globalisation revolved around issues of identity, cultural industry, and access to culture.

Optimistic views of globalisation pointed to the positive aspects of the growing interconnection of cultures and an unprecedented feeling of belonging to a truly cosmopolitan context. Furthermore, new digital technologies were seen as transcending national borders and hailed as enabling more democratic access to culture. Globalisation was also seen as facilitating increased intercultural communication and contributing to the development of intercultural sensitivity.

In contrast, sceptical views of globalisation claimed that it did not necessarily lead to cosmopolitan openness towards other cultures and social groups. Rather, it was held to contribute to the development of negative perceptions of people from other cultures, strengthening ethnocentric and racist attitudes. Likewise, the influence of consumer culture, promoted by the cultural industry, was seen as an agent of cultural homogenisation, therefore negatively affecting cultural diversity.

Since the late 1990s, cultural policies in different national states have faced multiple challenges to their previously established agendas. Issues of intellectual property and the deregulation of cultural markets came to the forefront. According to the rhetoric prevalent in this period, the elimination of regulatory and financial measures in the cultural sector was seen as a precondition for economic development, which was then expected to bring social cohesion. The concepts of ‘creative industries’ and ‘creative economy’ took centre stage, and previous concerns about preserving local and national cultural identities and institutions were relegated to the second plane.

However, the limits of development programmes emphasising individual creation over group solidarity and economic rationality over the nonmarket values of culture have eventually become visible. Faced with the problems brought about by deregulated cultural markets, inequalities in access to culture, environmental effects of overtourism, difficulties of integration of migrants, and the rise of nativist and identity politics, international organisations and national governments are increasingly devoting attention to societal values of culture and policy strategies that could promote these values. This does not mean that globalisation has ended, but that issues brought about by unprecedented global interconnectedness should now be viewed from a new perspective. (ITK, MP)



The term ‘glocalisation’, popularised by the prominent globalisation theorist Ronald Robertson, denotes what he described in 1997 as ‘the simultaneity – the co-presence – of both universalising and particularising tendencies’ in the contemporary social, political, economic and cultural context. In linguistic terms, the word is a hybrid of globalisation and localisation. It was coined to counter the idea of a unilinear and homogenising expansion of one type of culture in globalisation processes. In the cultural context, it implies that rather than becoming helpless victims of cultural imperialism, the majority of people now experience culture as a complex result of interactions between global and local cultural impulses. (ITK, MP)