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Information Age: Rise of the Network Society v.1: Economy, Society and Culture: Rise of the Network Society Vol 1 (Information Age Series) [Paperback]

Manuel Castells
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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The Rise of the Network Society: Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture v. 1 (Information Age Series) The Rise of the Network Society: Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture v. 1 (Information Age Series)
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Book Description

28 Sep 1996 Information Age Series (Book 1)
This book is an account of the economic and social dynamics of the new age of information. Based on research in USA, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, it aims to formulate a systematic theory of the information society which takes account of the fundamental effects of information technology on the contemporary world.

The global economy is now characterized by the almost instantaneous flow and exchange of information, capital and cultural communication. These flows order and condition both consumption and production. The networks themselves reflect and create distinctive cultures. Both they and the traffic they carry are largely outside national regulation. Our dependence on the new modes of informational flow gives enormous power to those in a position to control them to control us. The main political arena is now the media, and the media are not politically answerable.


Manuel Castells describes the accelerating pace of innovation and application. He examines the processes of globalization that have marginalized and now threaten to make redundant whole countries and peoples excluded from informational networks. He investigates the culture, institutions and organizations of the network enterprise and the concomitant transformation of work and employment. He shows that in the advanced economies production is now concentrated on an educated section of the population aged between 25 and 40: many economies can do without a third or more of their people. He suggests that the effect of this accelerating trend may not be mass unemployment but the extreme flexibilization of work and individualization of labor, and, in consequence, a highly segmented social structure.



Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (28 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557866171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557866172
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 642,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"So what is one to make of this magnificent throwback, Manuel Castells, this Voltaire of the information age, who has ventured a three–volume systemic account of our postmodern civilization under the title The Information Age? What do we make of a scholar who, rather than running from this confounding epoch′s complexities, embraces them, insisting scholarly analysis can still root itself in reason, in meaningful social action and in transformative politics?" Benjamin Barber, Los Angeles Times .

From the Back Cover

This book is an account of the economic and social dynamics of the new age of information. Based on research in USA, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, it aims to formulate a systematic theory of the information society which takes account of the fundamental effects of information technology on the contemporary world.

The global economy is now characterized by the almost instantaneous flow and exchange of information, capital and cultural communication. These flows order and condition both consumption and production. The networks themselves reflect and create distinctive cultures. Both they and the traffic they carry are largely outside national regulation. Our dependence on the new modes of informational flow gives enormous power to those in a position to control them to control us. The main political arena is now the media, and the media are not politically answerable.


Manuel Castells describes the accelerating pace of innovation and application. He examines the processes of globalization that have marginalized and now threaten to make redundant whole countries and peoples excluded from informational networks. He investigates the culture, institutions and organizations of the network enterprise and the concomitant transformation of work and employment. He shows that in the advanced economies production is now concentrated on an educated section of the population aged between 25 and 40: many economies can do without a third or more of their people. He suggests that the effect of this accelerating trend may not be mass unemployment but the extreme flexibilization of work and individualization of labor, and, in consequence, a highly segmented social structure.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book I have day-dreamed about writing... 27 Mar 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"I am convinced that Castell's work is the most illuminating, imaginative and intellectually rigorous account of the major features and dynamics of the world today." [Prof. F Webster; Theories of the Information Society, 2nd Edition; Pg.97]
"Adam Smith explained how capitalism worked and Karl Marx explained why it didn't. Now the social and economic relations of the Information Age have been captured by Manuel Castells." [GP Zachary; Wall Street Journal ; 1 October 1998]
PS: I disagree with the other reviewer re. it's style and content. It is not difficult to read.
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45 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The academic to end all academics... 20 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Grading and reviewing this work is really a matter of the point of view. In one sense it is the definitive reference of the concepts for "the new economy", "the digital economy", "the network economy" and all other versions. It is a truly solid academic work - far removed from the comparatively trivial business/management literature such as "10 new rules...", "Net Worth", "Blur", "Blown to Bits" and at least 20 more of the same. My critique of this work is not so much the content or even the message, but the fact that never have I encountered such a successfull attempt to hide an important message behind the most extreme forms of complicated language. In fact I admit to not having understood large parts of what is written - although I am quite used to reading all kinds of dense and obfuscated academic and technical work. I am sure that most people having read it, cannot honestly say that they have understood it. For a reasonably bright MBA, this book covers at least one term of full time study - then you may understand it. It does not read like a book! It needs study, discussion, research and so on to be fully understood. Nevertheless it is in many ways a must read for the enlightened person in this new age - and I am sure that it will be heavily referenced and built upon the coming decades. Few works today will have validity in 10 years - this will. So if you are looking for a research subject and are willing to spend a few full time months penetrating this material - this is the book for you. Do not, as I mistakenly did, pick it up and expect a slightly more rigorous presentation of the theories presented in popular mangagement litterature. A typical (not the worst... Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
63 of 71 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Polymath Desperately in Need of Focus 22 Mar 2004
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Given Castells' huge range of understanding and the sheer ambition of his work, it seems a bit unfair to really criticize this book. Few writers would try to tackle the huge ideas that Castells covers here - vast theories about the state and direction of humanity in relation to the rising information society. On the other hand, theory-of-everything books like this, as frequently attempted by polymaths such as Fritjof Capra, have their own unavoidable problems which deserve to be criticized. When a theorist tries to combine knowledge of everything into a huge integrated and unified theory, the writing becomes monstrously diffuse and unfocused. That is the exact problem with this book.
Castells obviously has an understanding of all the disparate theoretical areas that would be encompassed by such a huge endeavor. As the book progresses, Castells is not afraid to move from areas like astrophysics to rural sociology to corporate architecture to programming language to everything else you could think of, often in successive paragraphs. But when describing everything, Castells eventually reaches conclusions on nothing. Bringing together disparate realms of knowledge is one thing, but reaching insights that make sense is much more difficult.
That all makes this book extremely tiresome for the reader. In that exasperating theory-of-everything fashion, Castells can't stop piling on new terminology like real virtuality, technopoles, or milieux of information (terms created by himself or others) that merely illustrate the smashing together of ideas, rather than synthesis. And whenever it's time for an awe-inspiring insight, Castells can only come up with supposedly deep (usually in italics for significance) pontifications like "space is crystallized time" or "a place is a locale whose form...[is] self-contained within the boundaries of physical contiguity." These are indications of Castells' writing style - never-ending collections of disconnected pieces of data, topped off by windy pronouncements. After so many intensive build-ups, Castells can come up with little for the reader to really chew on.
And get this man an editor, please. Extremely long paragraphs, some more than two entire pages long, illustrate a real lack of control in the writing department. Castells also has the habit of endlessly qualifying his ideas by explaining what he's NOT going to talk about and why he decided to cover what he IS talking about, to the extent that he almost forgets to make his points at all (see the early portions of chapter 4 for a good example of this). And to think that this 500+ page monster is merely the first book in a trilogy on this subject. Castells deserves credit as a polymath with huge interests and ideas. But he is sorely lacking in focus, and effective writing skills. [~doomsdayer520~]
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rise of the Network Society 26 Nov 1999
By "denjohnh" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although the author of this volume has a reputation for ponderous prose I did not find his writing style as forbidding as I feared it would be. With determination, one can quickly adjust and fall into line with the epic tempo of the book. An extraordinary intellectual adventure awaits anyone who has the fortitude and time to negotiate these pages which, I believe, provide a clearer picture of the emergence of 21st century society and culture than anything else that I have encountered on the subject.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rise of Network Society 10 Jan 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not For Everyone 29 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are a reader with only a casual interest in globalization, or someone in search of "hip" reading suggested by a magazine, then this book is not for you. Yes, this is an academic book. It is intended for the student or scholar in sociology, economics, or world politics. As such, it is an excellent work. It extremely detailed and written for those within the ivory tower. As a Graduate student in Sociology, I loved it. Yes, it is hard reading. But the challenge is worth it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, provocative, turgid 24 Oct 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Manuel Castells takes the reader on an elliptical tour of the information age and how it will effect our society, economy, government and culture. The book is provocative; a thoughtful gem surfaces every ten pages or so. But you will have to wade through some turgid writing and a maze of academic references to get there. This is not the futuristic whimsy of an Alvin Toffler. An academic's academic, Manuel Castells remains conservatively close to the findings of his sociology peers.
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