Intercultural traffic, then, of whatever kind, takes place in a given social context, a context of complex structures, including power structures. It involves agents who are both conditioned by these power structures or at least entangled in them, and who exploit or attempt to exploit them to serve their own ends and interests, whether individual or collective. The power structures cover political and economic power but also, in the field of cultural production, those forms which Piere Bourdieu calls 'symbolic power. The agents, faced with an array of possible options, have to make choices and decisions about how to proceed.
It is here that the concept of norms can be usefully brought in. They facilitate and guide the process of decision-making. Norms govern the mode of import of cultural products-for example, of the translation of literary texts-to a considerable extent,at virtually every stage and every level, whenever choices between alternative courses of action need to be made (to import or not to import? to translate or to ‘rewrite' in some other way? how to translate?). Of course, norms also govern the mode of export, if a culture, or a section of it, actively exports texts or other cultural goods. But whether a product will be imported by the intended receptor system, or imported in the way envisaged by the donor, depends partly on factors pertaining to the receptor system itself and partly on the nature of the relations between the two systems in question.
In practice,this means that norms play a significant part, firstly, in the decision by the relevant agent in the receptor system whether or not to import a foreign-language text, or allow it to be imported; secondly, if it is decided to import, whether to translate (whatever the term may meanina given socio-cultural configuration) or to opt for some other mode of importation; and thirdly, if it is decided to translate, how to approach the task, and how to see it through.