Global cities and cultural experimentation: Cosmopolitan–local connections

Pilar Rojas Gaviria, Julie Emontspool

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Purpose – Studying the cultural dynamics of expatriate amateur theater in Brussels, the purpose of this paper is to investigate multicultural marketplace development in global cities. Design/methodology/approach – The paper performs an interpretive analysis of the expatriate amateur scene from an ethnographic perspective, combining observations of rehearsals and performances, in-depth interviews with actors, directors and audience, and secondary data. Findings – The fluidity of global cities allows their inhabitants to engage in creative processes of cultural experimentation, performing a continuous back-and-forth movement between hybridization and pluralization. The former creates enough homogeneity for the expatriates to feel targeted; the latter ensures a level of cultural diversity necessary to satisfy their cosmopolitan aspirations. Practical implications – The paper points to the important role of global cities for cultural experimentation. Such cities are not only an interesting market for culturally diverse products, but also experimental hubs. Managers willing to address multicultural marketplaces might target these markets with dynamic cultural offers that ensure a balance between rendering a product globally appreciated and recognizable, and maintaining a cosmopolitan appeal for consumers in search of diversity. Originality/value – Drawing on global cities as markets in continuous reconstruction and subject to cultural experimentation, the paper turns the attention of the research community to the collective, reflexive, and experimental aspects of symbolic consumption. It shows how arts and cultural products represent valuable contexts for international marketing research, providing original insights into market dynamics and cultural experimentation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)181-199
Publication statusPublished - 13. Apr 2015


  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Cultural experimentation
  • Cultural hybridization
  • Cultural pluralism
  • Global cities
  • Multicultural marketplace


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