The Polish sociologist and philosopher reflects on the process of glocalisation (a hybrid from the words globalisation and localisation) the world is undergoing. He calls for a spirit of working together to bring into being new ways of constructing a better life.
Shared Spaces recorded this conversation with Zygmunt Bauman in March 2013 when he visited the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) to give a lecture titled “Education” as part of the “In Common” series. In his lecture Bauman explains that the world is undergoing a process he calls “glocalisation” – a hybrid of the words “globalisation” and “localisation” – which takes significance away from places while at the same time heightening their meaning.
In other words, he observes that while distance once offered security – owing to the fact that travelling created feelings of insecurity – in the present world it no longer guarantees it, but neither is it a problem for maintaining social relations. Hence, the meaning of places has increased because of their familiarity, or things with which one can identity – “this is my house; I once did this over there” – in contrast with the uncertainty of individual influence in events on the global scale.
Bauman therefore advocates cooperating and doing things together, creating new paths along which other people can construct a better life. He takes two Italian movements, Slow Food and Cittaslow as examples in order to uphold the idea that, “We must make a new version of ourselves if we are to remake places: first put things in order and then you will have a friendlier and more comfortable world.”
Along similar lines, Bauman endorses as public space the importance of offline existence as opposed to the increasingly online lives we lead. The latter mode makes us believe that it is more convenient and comfortable because it is faster, and we think we are more in control, for example in being able to make connections and to abandon them more easily. However, offline existence, he recalls, brings “deep needs: being together, laughing, friendship…” and it would be a serious mistake to compare this with online relations, or give it lower priority. “The hundred friends you have in Facebook are no substitute for the five real friends you have offline".