Skip to the main content
Cultural Convergence: Cosmopolitan Communications and National Diversity

Cultural Convergence: Cosmopolitan Communications and National Diversity

Pippa Norris, Harvard Kennedy School

Tuesday, February 24, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor

RSVP required (
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET.

Societies have experienced a flood of information from diverse channels originating far beyond local communities and even national borders, transmitted through the rapid expansion of mass communications, including new ICTs. Rejecting Cold War ideas about the threat of ‘cultural imperialism’ developed half a century ago, arguments about the ‘Coca-colonization’ of world culture which were fashionable during the 1990s, and contemporary fears about the loss of cultural diversity, this study develops a new theoretical framework for understanding the multiple firewalls limiting the reach and impact of cross-border information flows.
We theorize that the expansion of cosmopolitan communications will have most impact on societies characterized by integration into world markets, freedom of the press, and widespread access to the mass media. Parochial societies lacking these conditions are less likely to be affected. Moreover within countries, many poorer social sectors continue to lack the resources and skills necessary to access the mass media. Important social psychological learning processes also serve to protect enduring values and attitudes. By neglecting the role of these firewalls, the risk to cultural pluralism arising from the spread of cosmopolitan communications has commonly been exaggerated.  The study provides multilevel evidence derived from the World Values Survey 1981-2007, covering more than 90 nations worldwide, to support this thesis.

About Pippa

Pippa Norris is the McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at Harvard University. Her work compares democracy, elections and public opinion, political communications, and gender politics.  She has also served recently as Director of the Democratic Governance Group, United Nations Development Programme, in New York.

She has published more than three-dozen books, including related volumes for Cambridge University Press: A Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Postindustrial Societies (2000), Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty and the Internet Worldwide  (2001), Democratic Phoenix: Political Activism Worldwide (2002) and Rising Tide: Gender Equality and Cultural Change Around the Globe (with Ronald Inglehart, 2003), Electoral Engineering: Voting Rules and Political Behavior  (2004, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide (with Ronald Inglehart, 2004), Radical Right: Voters and Parties in the Electoral Marketplace (2005) and Driving Democratization: Do Power-Sharing Regimes Work? (2008)  Her latest book in press is Cultural Convergence? Cosmopolitan Communications and National Diversity (with Ronald Inglehart, for CUP Fall 2009).


Download media from this event here.

Past Event
Feb 24, 2009
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Events 01

Jul 18, 2010 @ 9:00 AM

ICT and Civic Engagement in Nigeria: the 2011 Presidential Election and Beyond

This symposium in Abuja, Nigeria will stimulate discussion of, engagement with, and reflection upon the role and uses of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in…