Global relations and cultures are products of networks of communication and information (Appadurai 1990, Featherstone 1990a). That is, the symbolic forms transmitted by communication media have become central to contemporary cultural and social repertoires. Technology enables messages, images and symbols to be transmitted rapidly to audiences widely dispersed in time and space, thus creating and reinforcing new types of technically ‘mediated’ social relations that link individuals to various ‘imagined communities’ throughout the world (Anderson 1989, Thompson 1990). These ‘imagined worlds’ (as Appadurai renames them) are made up of ‘historically situated imaginations of persons and groups spread across the globe…[and] are fluid and irregularly shaped’ (Lash and Urry 1994: 307). Hence spatial contiguity and direct interpersonal interaction are not necessary features of such worlds. Imagined worlds are, as it were, inhabited by ‘non-existent’ persons, in the sense that there are probably no persons who exactly match the qualities or profiles of those considered members. Individual and collective identities (based, for example, on ethnic or gender stereotypes, or simply on the idea of what it means to be a ‘train-spotter’ or a ‘Man United’ football fan) are constructed around these imagined worlds of peoples and places. They are especially salient when people are somehow forced to compare and contrast their own worlds with those of others. This reflexive process may be facilitated by the rapid and widespread diffusion of media-transmitted images and symbols, but since media messages contain a multiplicity of meanings the outcomes are never very predictable.