Tutorial 7 Networks

Castells’ primary argument explains that we live in a network society. This being a society where networking technology has formed a new global social structure which is ‘key to ensuring productivity, competitiveness, innovation, creativity and, ultimately, power and power sharing.’

 

Informationalism is explained by Castells as how information technology has changed how information is distributed and due to the power which comes with the knowledge it has created a whole new social order. Network technology as vessels for the distribution of information is found in all facets of society. There are media networks, financial networks and social networks. These networks allow for the almost instantaneous transfer of information.

 

Castells further enhances his argument with the concepts space of flows and timeless time. The article defines space of flows not as being ‘placeless’ but rather an electronic virtual location where information is exchanged and stored. Time in network society is no longer linear instead time is compressed or blurred. These concepts are clearly exemplified in internet chat rooms and social networking games such as second life. Uses are located in a virtual space where time is either irrelevant or an alternate time.

 

The culture of network society is defined in the article as a continuously changing, a diverse mix cultures which do not merge but rather remain independent; they are linked only by the common thread of communication. YouTube and WordPress are virtual spaces where people are able to freely communicate. Users can present their own information and opinions. This allows for a variety of cultures to share space in communication but not necessarily merge forming one single culture. As Castells argues that information is the ‘source of productivity, wealth and power’ these new networks which allow all users to participate have created a new global social structure highlighting Castells core argument that we now live in a network society.  

 

Castells main argument that we are a network society is clearly demonstrated in my daily life through my constant use of the internet. I am regularly tapping into various networks such as the social network Facebook, YouTube a network enabling people to share videos and various media outlets for example the UK newspaper Guardian. Networks such as financial networks and government networks indirectly influence my life on a daily bases as they constantly exchange information and make decisions which effect the wider community.

 

Castells, Manuel ‘Informationalism, networks, and the network society: a theoretical blueprint’ From ‘Network Society’ Elqar, 2005, pp 3 – 7, 36 – 45

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