The Rise of Network Society brings up many important issues regarding globalization and what Manuel Castells calls the network society. He argues that the technological revolution that began in the late 70s in Silicon Valley has had a profound impact on all aspects of society. The changes, he argues are most apparent in the new relationships between the economy, state and society that have been formed. He suggests that an increase in the flexibility of management, a decentralization of production and an increased reliance on networking has caused many of the immediate changes taking place. Castells suggests that it is through the decline in the labor movement and the devaluing of the laborers that capital has become an increasingly powerful network. This, he suggests has caused networks such as labor, criminal or mafia groups, and financial markets to be realized on a global rather than local scale. By looking at how new relationships and identities are being conceived of in what he calls the informational age, Castells is able to theorize about the ways in which technology and information have will continue to transform society.
Castells suggests that as distances between places become shorter, time will also be changed. Technologies such as the internet, television and computers have decreased the space between different parts of the world to such an extent that we now have the capabilities to process information in real time. The fragmentation of the local community has led to an increasing reliance on global community organizations or the "net". People can now keep in touch with friends, date and divorce over the internet. This has caused for the increased attention on identity issues, since as Castells suggests, identity has and will continue to be an, or the fundamental aspect of meaning. Identity has been transformed from something you do to what you believe you are. Ideas about the self have become reliant upon global media and technological networks, rather than family and community. The increased reliance on social networks for identity purposes has caused identity to be vulnerable to network shutdowns. With the growing level networks and nodes for transmitting information and imaginations, people are beginning to claim increasingly specific identities that are difficult to share with others, which is sometimes related to the resurgence of xenophobia.
According to Castells, the current social changes that are taking place are due to the technological and informational transformations. Although he plainly negates technological determinism, it seems he infers something similar. He suggests that the information technology revolution that began in the late 20th century is what reshaped capitalism into what he calls "informational capitalism". Informationalism is what he believes has caused the new technological and material basis of the economy and thusly society. He distinguishes between capitalist restructuring and the rise of informationalism, but insures that they are inseparably related.
Castells' network society is based on the assumption that "development" is determined by productivity and productivity is determined by the number of consumable goods that are created with labor and matter. Since technology is what allows for matter and labor to produce consumable goods and add to the growth and development of a region, technology becomes the determining factor of a regions ability to "progress". The more technology a region is able to produce, the increased quantity and quality of products they will be able to manufacture, and the more surplus they will inherit.
Through the globalization of the production and consumption of goods, the energies going into the process have become decentralized and fragmented. This is what Castells suggests is a major factor in the uneven development of differing regions. Since productivity and development depend on symbolic communication, information processing and a technological skill, information and technology become the crucial factors in a developed society. From this, he is able to suggest that the new mode of development is informational. Rather than conforming post-industrialism as a way to describe the current period, Castells argues for what he calls informationalism. He suggests rather than being concerned with economic growth or marketing output as the industrialism was, the informationalism era is primarily concerned with technological development. Increased technological development is clearly expected to take place via increased knowledge.
Castells argues that the government or state is one of the primary motivators of technological progress. He uses Russia as an example of how stasis can cause a lack of technological development and therefore a lack of overall development. He suggests that during the 1980s, capitalism went through a restructuring that produced what he calls, "informational capitalism". He shows how the new capitalism has moved beyond the boundaries and space and time to incorporate a global economy based on technology and knowledge. Castells shows how The Rise of Network Society is based technological innovations and knowledge.