Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Networks in Manuel Castells’ theory of the network society

Anttiroiko, Ari-Veikko (2015): Networks in Manuel Castells’ theory of the network society.

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Abstract

This paper discusses the conceptualization of network in Manuel Castells’ theory of network society. Castells’ early academic works were built on the structural analysis of capitalism and social movements in response to the contradictions of capitalist society, without any explicit connection to network analysis. Networks gradually appeared in Castells’ works in the late 1980s, when he became interested in the configuration of the relationships between technology, economy, and society. The culmination of this phase was his opus magnum, The Information Age trilogy, which introduced network as a key concept of his macro theory, even though he remained laconic about the concept itself. This is paradoxical, for Castells became possibly the most prominent figure globally in adopting network terminology in macro sociological theory, but at the same time made hardly any empirical, theoretical or methodological contribution to social network analysis or network theory in general. This implies that ‘network’ in Castells’ social theory is not an analytical concept but rather a powerful metaphor that served to capture his idea of the new social morphology of late capitalism.

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