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Polycentrism is the principle of organisation of a region around several political, social or financial centres. An example of a polycentric city is the Ruhr area in Germany: Today, the area is a large city that grew from a dozen smaller cities. As a result, the "city" has no single centre, but several.
A county is said to be polycentric if its population is distributed almost evenly among several centres in different parts of the county.
The theory of polycentrism was coined by Palmiro Togliatti and was understood as characterization of working conditions of communist parties in comparison between different countries after the de-stalinization in the former Soviet Union 1956.
In intercultural competence the term polycentrism is understood as attitude and openness towards other cultures, opinions and ways of life: when intercultural actions and correlations are interpreted not only with the background of own cultural experiences, but when the independence of other cultures is recognized and appreciated and when cultural values are relativized and seen in the whole context. This in the way of non-ethoncentrism, opposite to ethnocentrism.