Manuel Castells

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The Internet is, above all else, a cultural creation.

Manuel Castells (born 9 February 1942) is a sociologist especially associated with information society and communication research. Since 2008 he has been a member of the governing board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.



Urban renewal and social conflict in Paris, 1972


Manuel Castel (1972) "Urban renewal and social conflict in Paris" In: Social Science Information Vol 11. p. 93-124

Urban problems are increasingly becoming a political issue... from the moment collective facilities begin to play a strategic role in the structure and rhythms of everyday life.
  • "Urban problems" are increasingly becoming a political issue as the socialization of the means of production is accompanied by the increasing socialization of the means of consumption or, if one prefers, from the moment collective facilities begin to play a strategic role in the structure and rhythms of everyday life.
    • p. 93
  • "The city" is not a framework but a social practice in constant flux the more it becomes an issue, the more it is a source of contradictions and the more its social manipulation is linked to the ensemble of social and political conflicts.
    • p. 93
  • By social movements we mean a certain type of organisation of social practices, the logic of whose development contradicts the institutionally dominant social logic
    • p. 93
  • We must conceive of opposition to decisions relating to urban planning as something more than "consumer-reaction" and, consequently, we must link it to the whole range of social contradictions and look into the conditions for the emergence and the determination of the objectives of social movements in the urban field."
    • p. 93-94
  • The urban renewal programme is one of the most spectacular urban programmes to have been undertaken in Paris; it is certainly the one which has provoked the biggest public outcry. The renewal programme in the strict sense of the term, has two essential characteristics:
    1) It concerns an already structured social space, of which it changes the form, the social content and/or function.
    2) It is based on public initiative, whatever the legal or financial form of the renewal agency, where private enterprise may take over the work, as in the case of Opératioll Italie.
    • p. 94

The Urban Question: A Marxist Approach, 1977


Manuel Castells (1977) The Urban Question. A Marxist Approach (Alan Sheridan, translator). London, Edward Arnold (1977) (Original publication in French, 1972)

  • This book was born out of astonishment. At a time when the waves of the anti-imperialist struggle are sweeping across the world, when movements of revolt are bursting out at the very heart of advanced capitalism, when the revival of working-class action is creating a new political situation in Europe, ‘urban problems’ are becoming an essential element in the policies of governments, in the concerns of the mass media, and consequently, in the everyday life of a large section of the population.
    • p. 1
  • To consider the city as the projection of society on space is both an indispensible starting point and too elementary an approach. For, although one must go beyond the empiricism of geographical description, one runs the very great risk of imagining space as a white page on which the actions of groups and institutions are inscribed, without encountering any other obstacle than the trace of past generations. This is tantamount to conceiving of nature as entirely fashioned by culture, whereas the whole social problematic is born by the indissoluble union of these two terms, through the dialectical process by which a particular biological species (particularly because divided into classes) "man", transforms himself and transforms his struggle for life and for the appropriation of the product of his labour.
    • p. 115
It is a question of going beyond the description of mechanisms of interaction between locations and activities, in order to discover the structural laws of the production and functioning of the spatial forms studied...
  • It is a question of going beyond the description of mechanisms of interaction between locations and activities, in order to discover the structural laws of the production and functioning of the spatial forms studied... There is no specific theory of space, but quite simply a deployment and specification of the theory of social structure, in order to account for the characteristics of the particular social form, space and its articulation with other historically given, form and processes.
    • p. 124 as quoted in: Phil Hubbard, Rob Kitchin (2010) Key Thinkers on Space and Place. p. 101
  • An analysis [of urban space] is possible only if one reduces social action to a language and social relations to systems of communication. The ideological displacement carried out in this perspective consists in passing from one method of mapping traces of social practice through its effects on the organization of space to a principle of organization deduced from the formal expression listed, as if social organization were a code and urban structure a set of myths.
    • p. 216
  • [Urban planning] must be interpreted on the basis of the social effect produced by the political instance in the urban system and/or in the social structure.
    • p. 276)
  • Each ‘urban struggle’ must have its structural content specified, and be considered in terms of the role it plays vis-à-vis the various social classes involved. Then and only then will we know what we are talking about.
    • p. 376

City, Class and Power, 1978


Manuel Castells (1983) City, Class and Power. London; New York, MacMillan; St. Martins Press (1978)

  • In advanced capitalism it expresses the fundamental contradiction between, on the one hand, the increasing socialisation of consumption, and on the other hand, the capitalist logic of the production and distribution of its means of consumption, the outcome of which is a deepening crisis in this sector at the same time as popular protest demands an amelioration of the collective material conditions of daily existence. In an attempt to resolve these contradictions and their resulting conflicts, the state increasingly intervenes in the city; but, as an expression of a class society, the state in practice acts according to the relations of force between classes and social groups, generally in favour of the hegemonic fraction of the dominant classes.
    • p. 3
  • In the end if the system still ‘works’ it is because women guarantee unpaid transportation... because they repair their homes, because they make meals when there are no canteens, because they spend more time shopping around, because they look after others’ children when there are no nurseries, and because they offer ‘free entertainment’ to the producers when there is a social vacuum and the absence of cultural creativity. If these women who ‘do nothing’ ever stopped to do ‘only that’, the whole urban structure as we know it would become completely incapable of maintaining its function
    • p. 177–178 as cited in: McDowell, Ward, Fagan, Perrons and Ray (2006) "Connecting Time and Space: The Significance of Transformations in Women’s Work in the City". In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Vol 30.1 p. 141–158

The City and the Grassroots, 1983


Manuel Castells (1983) The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements. Berkeley: University of California Press

  • [Castells major hypotheses in this book are:]
- The city is a social product resulting from conflicting social interests and values
- Because of the institutionalization of socially dominant interests, major innovations in the city’s role, meaning and structure tend to be the outcome of grassroots (people’s) mobilization and demands. When these mobilizations result in the transformation of the urban structure, we call them social movements
- Yet the process of urban social change cannot be reduced to the effects produced on the city by successful social movements. This means that a theory of urban social change must take in consideration the social and spatial effects resulting from the action of the dominant interests as well as from the grassroots alternative
- Although class relationships and class struggle are fundamental in understanding urban conflict, they are not the only primary source of urban social change. The role of the state, the ethnic and national movements and gender relationships are among other alternative sources of urban change

Modernity — An Incomplete Project, 1983


Jürgen Habermas (1983) "Modernity — An Incomplete Project" in: The Anti-Æsthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture. Hal Foster, ed. Seattle: Bay Press

  • Let me start a different/ analysis by recalling an idea from Max Weber. He characterized cultural modernity as the separation of the substantive reason expressed in religion and metaphysics into three autonomous spheres. They are science, morality and art. These came to be differentiated because the unified world-views of religion and metaphysics fell apart. Since the 18th century, the problems inherited from these older world-views could be arranged so as to fall under specific aspects of validity: truth, normative rightness, authenticity and beauty. They could then be handled as questions of knowledge, or of justice and morality, or of taste. Scientific discourse, theories of morality, Jurisprudence, and the production and criticism of art could in turn be institutionalized. Each domain of culture could be made to correspond to cultural professions in which problems could be dealt with as the concern of special experts. This professionalized treatment of the cultural tradition brings to the fore the intrinsic structures of each of the three dimensions of culture. There appear the structures of cognitive-instrumental, of moral-practical and of aesthetic-expressive rationality, each of these under the control of specialists who seem more adept at being logical in these particular ways than other people are. As a result, the distance grows between the culture of the experts and that of the larger public. What accrues to culture through specialized treatment and reflection does not immediately and necessarily become the property of everyday praxis. With cultural rationalization of this sort, the threat increases that the life-world, whose traditional substance has already been devalued, will become more and more impoverished.
    • p. 8-9

The Rise of the Network Society, 1996


Manuel Castells (1996) The Rise of the Network Society: The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture Volume I (Information Age Series).

  • In the industrial mode of development, the main source of productivity lies in the introduction of new energy sources, and in the ability to decentralize the use of energy throughout the production of circulation processes. In the new informational mode of development the source of productivity lies in the technology of knowledge generation, information processing and symbolic … what is specific to the informational mode of development is the action of knowledge upon knowledge itself as the main source of productivity... in a virtuous circle of interaction
    • p. 16-17 as cited in: Andy Hargreaves (2003) Teaching in the Knowledge Society: Education in the Age of Insecurity. p. 16
  • There is a multilayering of global networks in the key strategic activities that structure and destructure the planet. When these multilayered networks overlap in some node, when there is a node that belongs to different networks, two major consequences follow. First, economies of synergy between these different networks take place in that node: between financial markets and media businesses; or between academic research and technology development and innovation; between politics and media.
  • The collective fascination of the entire planet with action movies where the protagonists are the players in organized crime cannot be explained just by the repressed urge for violence in out psychological make up. It may well indicate the cultural breakdown of traditional moral order, and the implicit recognition of a new society, made up of communal identity and unruly competition, of which global crime is a condensed expression.
  • My main statement in that it does not really matter if you believe that this world, or any of its features, is new or not. My analysis stands by itself. This is our world, the world of the Information age. And this is my analysis of this world, which must be understood, used, judged, by itself, by its capacity, or incapacity, to identify and explain the phenomena that we observe and experience, regardless of its newness.
    • p. 376 as cited in: Jari Peltola (2006)
  • The promise of the Information Age is the unleashing of unprecedented productive capacity by the power of the mind. I think, therefore I produce. In so doing, we will have the leisure to experiment with spirituality, and the opportunity of reconciliation with nature, without sacrificing the material wellbeing of our children. The dream of the Enlightenment, that reason and science would solve the problems of humankind, is within reach.
    • p. 390 as cited in: Jari Peltola (2006)
  • But we are not just witnessing a relativisation of time according to social contexts or alternatively the return to time reversibility as if reality could become entirely captured in cyclical myths. The transformation is more profound: it is the mixing of tenses to create a forever universe, not self-expanding but self-maintaining, not cyclical but random, not recursive but incursive: timeless time, using technology to escape the contexts of its existence, and to appropriate selectively any value each context could offer to the ever-present. I argue that this is happening now not only because capitalism strives to free itself from all constraints, since this has been the capitalist system’s tendency all along, without being able fully to materialize it. Neither is it sufficient to refer to the cultural and social revolts against clock time, since they have characterized the history of the last century without actually reversing its domination, indeed furthering its logic by including clock time distribution of life in the social contract. Capital’s freedom from time and culture’s escape from the clock are decisively facilitated by new information technologies, and embedded in the structure of the network society.
    The transformation of time as surveyed in this chapter does not concern all processes, social groupings, and territories in our societies, although it does affect the entire planet. What I call timeless time is only the emerging, dominant form of social time in the network society, as the space of flows does not negate the existence of places. It is precisely my argument that social domination is exercised through the selective inclusion and exclusion of functions and people in different temporal and spatial frames.
  • Our exploration of emergent social structures across domains of human activity and experience leads to an over-arching conclusion: as an historical trend, dominant functions and processes in the Information Age are increasingly organized around networks. Networks constitute the new social morphology of our societies, and the diffusion of networking logic substantially modifies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power, and culture. While the networking form of social organization has existed in other times and spaces, the new information technology paradigm provides the material basis for its pervasive expansion throughout the entire social structure.
    • p. 500

The Power of Identity (1997)


Source: Manuel Castells (1997/2004/2010). The Power of Identity, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. II. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

  • This volume explores the construction of collective identities as they relate to social movements and power struggles in the network society. It also deals with the transformation of the state, politics, and democracy under the conditions of globalization and new communication technologies. The understanding of these processes aims to provide new perspectives for the study of social change in the Information Age.
    • Preface to the 2010, p. xvii

End of Millennium, 1998


Source: Manuel Castells (1998/2000) End of Millennium. Oxford & Massachusetts: Blackwell.

  • Our economy, society, and culture are built on interests, values, institutions, and systems of representation that, by and large, limit collective creativity, confiscate the harvest of information technology, and deviate our energy into self-destructive confrontation. This state of affairs must not be.
    • p. 379

Materials for an exploratory theory of the network society (2000)


Manuel Castells (2000) "Materials for an exploratory theory of the network society". In: British Journal of Sociology Vol. 51 (Nr. 1)

  • This article aims at proposing some elements for a grounded theory of the network society. The network society is the social structure characteristic of the Information Age, as tentatively identified by empirical, cross-cultural investigation. It permeates most societies in the world, in various cultural and institutional manifestations, as the industrial society characterized the social structure of both capitalism and statism for most of the twentieth century.
    • p. 5
  • Politics becomes a horse race, and a tragicomedy motivated by greed, backstage manoeuvres, betrayals, and, often, sex and violence – a genre increasingly indistinguishable from TV scripts.
    • p. 13
  • Globalisation is highly selective. It proceeds by linking up all that, according to dominant interests, has value anywhere in the planet, and discarding anything which has no value or becomes devalued, in a variable geometry of creative destruction and destructive creation of value.

The Internet Galaxy - Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society (2001)

  • "the Internet is the technological basis for the organizational form of the Information Age: the network."
    • Opening, The Network is the Message, p. 1
  • The Internet is a communication medium that allows for the first time, the communication of many to many, in chosen time, on a global scale.
    • Opening, The Network is the Message, p. 2
" the Internet is the technological basis for the organizational form of the Information Age: the network."

Chapter 1, Lessons from the History of the Internet

  • The origins of the Internet are to be found in ARPANET, a computer network set up by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in September 1969. ARPA was formed i 1958 by the Defense Department of the United States with the task of mobilizing research resources, particularly from the university world, toward building technological military superiority over the Soviet Union in the wake of the launching of the first Sputnik in 1957.
    • p. 10
  • In sum, all the key technological developments that led to the internet were built around government institutions, major universities and research centers. The Internet did not orginate in the business world. It was too daring a technology, too expensive a project, and too risky an initiative to be assumed by profit-oriented organizations.
    • p. 22
  • The most blatant illustration of this statement is the fact that in 1972, Larry Roberts, the director of IPTO, sought to privatize ARPANET, once it was up and running. He offered to transfer operational responsibility to ATT. After considering the proposal, with the help of a committee of experts from Bell Laboratories, the company refused.
    • p. 22
  • The Internet is, above all else, a cultural creation.
    • p. 33

Chapter 2, The Culture of the Internet

  • Technological systems are socially produced. Social production is culturally informed. The Internet is no exception.
    • p. 36
  • The Internet Culture is the culture of the creators of the Internet.
    • p. 36
  • The Internet culture is characterized by four layer-structure: •       The Techno-Meritocratic Culture •       The Hacker Culture •       The Virtual Communitarian Culture •       The Entrepreneurial Culture
    • p. 37
  • Cultures are not made from free-floating values. They are rooted in institutions and organizations.
    • p. 48

Chapter 3, e-Business and the New Economy

  • John Chambers, Cisco's CEO and innovator, was, primarily, a salesman, and it shows.
    • p. 71
  • If valuation in the financial markets provides the bottom line for the performance of the company, it is labor that remains the source of productivity, innovation, and competitiveness.
    • p. 90
  • The e-economy cannot function without workers able to navigate, both technically and in terms of content, this deep sea of information, organizing it, focusing it, and transforming it into specific knowledge, appropriate for the task and purpose of the work process.
    • p. 90
  • Literally everything is based on the capacity to attract, retain, and efficiently use talented workers.
    • p. 91
  • As for the employees, the payment in stock options revives, somewhat ironically, the old anarchist ideology of self-management of the company, as they are co-owners, co-producers, and co-managers of the firm.
    • p. 92
  • At its core, the new economy is based on culture: on the culture of innovation, on the culture of risk, and the culture of expectations, and, ultimately on the culture of hope in the future.
    • p. 112
Internationally, the Echelon program, created by the United States and the UK during the Cold War, seems to have been converted into industrial espionage, according to the French government agencies, by combining traditional eavesdropping and interference of telecommunications, with interception of electronic messages.

Chapter 4, Virtual Communities or Network Society?

  • Internet use enhanced sociability both at a distance and in the local community.
    • p. 122

Chapter 5, Computer Networks and Civil Society

  • Societies change through conflict and are managed by politics.
    • p. 137
  • The anti-globalization movement is not simply a network, it is an electronic network, it is an Internet-based movement. And because the Internet is its home it cannot be disorganized or captured. It swims like fish in the net
    • p. 142
  • Realpolitik does not disappear in the Information Age. But it remains state-centric, in an era organized around networks, including networks of states.
    • p. 160

Chapter 6, Privacy and Liberty in Cyberspace

  • The Internet is no longer a free realm, but neither has it fulfilled the Orwellian prophecy. It is a contested terrain, where the new, fundamental battle for freedom in the Information Age is being fought.
    • p. 171
  • Internationally, the Echelon program, created by the United States and the UK during the Cold War, seems to have been converted into industrial espionage, according to the French government agencies, by combining traditional eavesdropping and interference of telecommunications, with interception of electronic messages.
    • p. 176

Chapter 7, Multimedia and the Internet

  • "traditional media companies are not generating any profits from their Internet ventures."
    • p. 191

Chapter 8, The Geography of the Internet

  • Internet use is diffusing fast, but this diffusion follows a spatial pattern that fragments its geography according to wealth, technology, and power: it is the new geography of development.
    • p. 212

Chapter 9, The Digital Divide in a Global Perspective

  • Indeed, in 1999, over half the people on the planet had never made or received a telephone call, although this is changing fast.
    • p. 247
The Internet is no longer a free realm, but neither has it fulfilled the Orwellian prophecy. It is a contested terrain, where the new, fundamental battle for freedom in the Information Age is being fought.
  • The fundamental digital divide is no measured by the number of connections to the Internet, but by the consequences of both connection and lack of connection.
    • p. 269

Conclusion, The Challenges of the Network Society

  • The Internet is indeed a technology of freedom - but it can free the powerful to oppress the uninformed, it may lead to the exclusion of the devalued by the conquerors of value. In this general sense, society has not changed much.
    • p. 275
  • Beyond the realm of radical protests, there is also fear among many citizens about what this new society, of which the Internet is the symbol, will bring about in terms of employment, education, social protection, and lifestyles.
    • p. 276
  • If you do not care about networks, the networks will care about you, anyway. For as long as you want to live in society, at this time and in this place, you will have to deal with the network society.
    Because we live in the Internet Galaxy.
    • p. 282

Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society, 2007


Castells (2007) "Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society". In: International Journal of Communication Vol 1 (2007), pp. 238-266

  • The ongoing transformation of communication technology in the digital age extends the reach of communication media to all domains of social life in a network that is at the same time global and local, generic and customised in an ever-changing pattern.
  • The way people think determines the fate of norms and values on which societies are constructed. While coercion and fear are critical sources for imposing the will of the dominants over the dominated, few institutional systems can last long if they are predominantly based on sheer repression.

Communication Power, 2009


Castells (2009) Communication power. Oxford/New York, Oxford University Press

  • Power is based on the control of communication and information, be it the macro-power of the state and media corporations or the micro-power of organizations of all sorts.
    • p. 1475
  • In the network society, the space of flows dissolves time by disordering the sequence of events and making them simultaneous in the communication networks, thus installing society in structural ephemerality: being cancels becoming.
    • p. 1510
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