We use words like local & localism – what are the antonyms/opposites of those terms? Help please!

I’m developing new projects for 2016 and am feeling inspired by many things. The research I’m doing, and the thinking going on in my mind, is all sucking in how the terms ‘local’ and ‘localism’ have been adopted into our language. Yet when googling for the antonyms, there is no conclusive agreement about the opposites. Here are a few, taken from websites:







Broad minded



I am starting to write an essay about how the word is being used in different sectors. If I am to produce projects that have both local value and unrestricted (my favoured term at present) value, it is important to me. 

PLEASE do comment, make suggestions, help me wrap my brain around it.

Published by carolyn black

I'm an artist and also commission contemporary art in unusual locations. As a producer, I fundraise, curate, project manage and deliver projects. I'm also a writer and film-maker.

9 thoughts on “We use words like local & localism – what are the antonyms/opposites of those terms? Help please!

  1. Hi Carolyn and happy new year!

    For me, global opposes local but what do these words actually mean? They are very open. I also like universal. Of course, you must make your own definitions…

    Localism always reeks of propaganda and manipulation.

    Using “unrestricted” to oppose “local” is problematic in the sense that it presupposes that local must be in some way restricted or restricting. I do not think that is (necessarily) always or often the case. Again, that is for you to argue in your forthcoming essay. Notions of global, universal and unrestricted are perhaps even more slippery than local, and potentially much more divisive…

    Be very interested to see how this topic and your essay develops.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year to you too Stephen. Interested you feel local opposes global – I think it is all relative – one would not have any meaning without the other. My interest lies in the relationship we may have that has a local, personal resonance, but may be connected globally to distant people and places.

      There is a supposition that local=good/personal and global= not so good/impersonal

      Maybe it’s about how we consider ourselves part of our community and the wider world? Might someone born and raised in one place feel differently about these things than someone like me, born to immigrant parents, who moved around loads as a child? (Have to keep checking for autocorrect – which twists my words in an intriguing way!)


      1. Hello again,

        My opposition is dialectal: Both poles are interrelated and essential in creating the tensions in which meanings are constructed and contested.

        Drawing distinctions between local and global always incredibly difficult and liable to proceed towards reductive thinking at best, colonialism at worst…

        Lovely to discuss this topic. An antidote to lists and top tens (or whatever)! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, definitely more fun! Dialectical – an academic word I left behind a while ago, when I realised the Phd wasn’t for me…it was affecting the hands on way I work and the audiences I need to communicate with. And it stifled my creativity when writing – ooooo, where does this take us?


      3. Into anti-intellectualism (joking)… I guess it’s about communicating complex concepts and linguistics in easy to comprehend ways without diluting the aforementioned and without criticism from academics?


      4. It’s about as sticky as a home-made bun Stephen!

        Bringing it back into the real world and what happens, here is a brief report by me, about my experience of localism recently. (I’ll discuss my travelling for 5 hours on a train to MIMA to see the Localism show another time! And loved it!)

        Here’s an example of how ‘localism’ can bite audiences in the bum.

        The most recent census found that 9.3million people – 17.6 per cent of England’s population – live in rural areas.*
        I’m one of that 17.6 per cent

        I was really excited to see Theaster Gates was coming to Bristol, so I booked for his talk at St Georges. I also wanted to meet up with my family to share the experience of going to see a performance at Sanctum. As it’s an hours drive away, I elected to book, just in case we couldn’t get in. (£5 per ticket) We had also paid for tickets to go and see a music event (Ebeyi) so we didn’t want to risk Sanctum being full. (It was free for walk-ups, but not for people arriving from further afield, so I felt it wise to book.) So we did, and even the Bristol people in our party paid, to make sure we could get in.

        Sadly, and this was just bad luck I know, what was on wasn’t very compelling.

        As someone who lives in a rural area I do so knowing I need to plan cultural visits, pay for petrol, and pay for parking. That’s fine. But had I lived in the city, I wouldn’t have to pay that.

        So what’s all that about?



  2. Here’s my view for what it is worth.
    ‘Local’ and ‘localism’ are only abstract words, helpful in LOCAting ourselves in the world – which is an essential part of our self-identity… i.e. knowing who and what we are, and how we fit into the great scheme of things.
    But as you say, these word, like many others, have been appropriated by various sectors to suit their own agendas. So I would say the opposite of ‘local’ and ‘localism’ depends upon who it is you are talking/ listening to.
    Personally, I would probably say ‘universal’.
    Cheers and Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, also interesting. I did begin to consider ‘locale’ but that relates to (not reunites, for goodness sake WordPress!)a human presence and is more about place than the terms local/localism.

      There is a Wiki for localism that defines it as being a local government initiative about decentralisation. Which provides yet another understanding.

      Local is often used in a cuddly way, like home-made jam, organic free-range eggs from local hens etc. (No foreign hens eh? No refugee hens?). This sounds like separatism wrapped in local hay to me!

      In a big whole food supermarket I giggled my head off when I read their big brown, earthy, paint peeling signs “we’re local and global” – which clearly means they sell local produce at exhorbitant prices and import products from allover the world, regardless of carbon footprint etc.

      It’s all very confusing!


  3. Yes – I think laughter is probably the best response to it all! If only the supermarkets weren’t causing so much damage socially, economically, environmentally…
    The ‘local’ theme certainly seems well worth your investigation to try and unearth some truth and clarity about the way these words are used and misused.


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