The Manuel Castells reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Manuel Castells

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Manuel Castells (b. 1942 in Catalonia) is a sociologist. Between 1967 and 1979 he taught at the University of Paris, first at the Nanterre Campus, then, since 1970, at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. In 1979 he was appointed Professor of Sociology and Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2001 he also became a research professor at the Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona. In 2003 he joined the USC Annenberg School for Communication as a professor of communication and the first Wallis Annenberg endowed Chair of Communication and Technology.

Castells lives in Barcelona and Los Angeles, California and is married to Emma Kiselyova.

Table of contents
1 Theory
2 Publications
3 On-line resources


During the 1970s Castells played a key role in the development of a Marxist urban sociology. He emphasized the role of social movements in the conflictive transformation of the urban landscape. He introduced the concept of 'collective consumption' (public transport, public housing, etc.) to frame a wide range of social struggles. Abandoning the strictures of Marxism in the early 1980s, he began to focus on the role of new technologies in the economic restructuring. In 1989, he introduced the concept of the 'space of flows' by which he meant the material and immaterial components of the global information networks through which more and more of the economy was coordinated. In the 1990s, he combined both strands of his research into a massive study, Information Age, published as a trilogy between 1996 and 1998.

Castells analysis unfolds along three basic dimensions: production, power and experience. This stresses that the organization of the economy, of the state and its institutions, and of the ways people create meaning in their lives through collective action are irreducible sources of social dynamics. They need to be understood on their own terms as well as relating to one other. Applying such an analysis to the development of the Internet, Castells stresses the roles of the state (military, academia), the social movements (hackers, social activists) and of businesses in shaping the infrastructure according to their (conflicting) agendas.

In the trilogy, he condenses this view to the statement "our societies are increasingly structured around the bipolar opposition of the Net and the Self" (1996, p. 3). The Net means the new, networked forms of organization whereas the Self relates to the multiple practices through which people try to reaffirm identity and meaning in a landscape of rapid change. Castells also coined the term 4th World.


Manuel Castells is extraordinarily prolific. He has written more than 20 books. The most important are:

On-line resources