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Description One of the most prolific and respected scholars today, Manuel Castells has given us a new language for understanding the impact of information and communication technologies on social life. Politicians can no longer run for office without a digital media strategy, new communication technologies are a fundamental infrastructure for the economy, and the internet has become an invaluable tool for cultural production and consumption. Yet as more of our political, economic, and cultural interaction occurs over digital media, the ability to create and manipulate both content and networks becomes real power.

Castells and the Media introduces a great thinker, presents original theories about the network society, and encourages readers to use these theories to help them understand the importance of digital media and social networks in their own lives. Castells and the Theory of the Network Society Chapter 2: Media Economics and Life Online Chapter 3: Networks of Power and Politics Chapter 4: Cultural Industries in a Digital Century Chapter 5: Mobile and Social Media Chapter 6: It is a wonderful and often surprising account - bringing to life the multiple and messy ways in which these new technologies are shaped, sharpened, undermined by the social conditions within which they get used.

From Medieval to Global Assemblages "The network perspective is proving to be the most important contemporary frame with which to understand the forces shaping technology, economics and society in the 21st century.

“Castells and Jenkins: … these approaches are terribly flawed”: An interview with Christian Fuchs

Concise introduction to the key thinker Manuel Castells and his relation to media and communication. Human labour power is the substance of value whereas labour time in specific spaces is the measure of value. The labour value is the average time it takes to produce a commodity. How does this relate to what is called social media? The claim that the labour theory of value is no longer valid implies that time plays no role in the contemporary capitalist economy.

Attention and reputation can be accumulated and getting attention for social media does not happen simply by putting the information there — it requires the work of creating the attention. The groups on Facebook and Twitter with the largest number of followers and likes are the ones of entertainers and companies who employ people such as social media strategists to take care of their social media presence. So we need to conceptualize value with a theory of time. Therefore, I am interested in establishing theories of time in society, time in economy and media theory.

This may be easier to comprehend in the mass media environment where media content is shaped with a specific purpose to control and direct human behaviour, for example through advertising or political campaigns. However, with social media the users produce the content themselves. Where do you see this type of power exercised in the social media environment and how is it different from the mass media environment? I will try to answer this question in the context of two dominant theories of how social media are being conceptualized: I think both of these approaches are terribly flawed. Jenkins celebrates corporatist capitalist culture and how it is monetized.

However there is also altruistic behaviour in our lives at home, with friends and elsewhere. There is life beyond domination.

Of course we live in dominative societies but I believe in a sort of Enlightenment ideal of emancipation of society and that people can rule themselves. For me power means the ability of people to shape and control the structures of society. So power can be distributed in different forms. There are also different forms of power: The problem is that these forms of power are unequally distributed.

Now here comes Jenkins who claims that culture has become participatory and we today all create culture in a democratic process. Of course, there are changes you cannot deny since it is easy to shoot a video on your mobile phone and put it on the internet. But does this mean that society becomes immediately democratized? Both Jenkins and Castells are technological determinists. Structures of control in the economy today and in the political system are based on power asymmetries. Although we produce information ourselves this does not mean that all people benefit from it to the same extent.

Do you see any alternatives to these events? How can we achieve a truly open and participatory internet taking all these risks into account? The Prism scandal has shown that states have access to a lot of social media.

However, we have to put this phenomenon in a broader context. What has emerged is a sort of surveillance-industrial complex where you have spy agencies conducting massive surveillance in collaboration with private companies. Facebook was involved, Skype, Apple and others. Snowden was also working for a private security company — Booz Allen — and the state outsourced surveillance to this private company and other ones. Security is a very profitable sector within the economy.

We must also see the ideological context of these events that goes back to the post situation. A spiral of war and violence was developing after these events and it was claimed that there is a technological fix to terrorism and organized crime and that there are terrorist and criminals everywhere around us.

Castells and the Media: Theory and Media | General Communication & Media Studies | Subjects | Wiley

The suggested highly ideologically motivated solution was to introduce more surveillance technologies to prevent organized crime and terrorism. This was very one-dimensional and short sighted. What has developed in the online sphere is corporate and state control.

From a liberal perspective this threatens the basic liberties we have or that we think we have in modern society. The question is how do we get out of this situation and what changes of the Internet and society do we need? We do have things like the Pirate party struggling for freedom of information, people concerned about privacy, critical journalists concerned about press freedom, the Occupy movement and so on.

They all seem, however, terribly unconnected but in the time of crisis of the whole capitalist society their reactions, if combined in a network, would be a force for defending society and making it more democratic. A united political movement that would run for governments and parliaments could try to make reforms in society. We also need to reinvent and redesign the basic structures of the internet. However, we should not do away with social media because they do enable people to maintain their networks.

But people do not like the aspects of control embedded in them.

Top Authors

We need an internet controlled by civil society. If we think of how the media can be organized there are not just capitalist media but also public service media controlled by the state and alternative media controlled by civil society. The idea of an alternative internet purely controlled by the state might be dangerous, but we need state power to make progressive changes. I would like to see a combination of both state and civil society power in reforming the Internet and the media because there are interesting civil society projects that however face the problem of a lack of resources.

For example, the Occupy movement had an alternative social medium they created. This was used by a certain minority within the movement. We can only introduce changes by using already existing structures but the history of alternative media is unfortunately a history of voluntary, self-exploited and precarious work because of the lack of sources of income.

So a media reform movement should also channel resources towards alternative projects. We need to tax media corporations more, we need to tax advertising, and corporations in general. Through participatory budgeting one could channel this money towards alternative media projects that are non-profit and so we could create a form of cooperation between the state and civil society that advances media reform. Voluntary donations such as the ones on Wikipedia are also a solution but are dependent on an unstable stream of resources.

How will it affect media studies and social sciences and humanities in general? Research topics and areas in the European Union are predominantly formed in a top-down process, for example in Horizon What we need is a more critical agenda that addresses the problems in society and then thinks about the media and communication to see in which context they are operating and how we can improve democracy and the internet.


  • Description.
  • Castells () on global communication and cultural change | media/anthropology.
  • Castells (2009) on global communication and cultural change?

The EU is framing questions about the Internet in terms of e. Administrative, quantitative and micro-level research is also preferred while theory, ethics, or critical theory is avoided.

Oxford Internet Institute

A critical research agenda would involve critical social theory on the one hand and critical empirical research on the other hand. Unfortunately a lot of critical theory does not use research methods. At the same time there are a lot of micro studies of social life that completely ignore theory. So a lot of empiricists do not know much about theory and a lot of theorists do not know much about research methods.

The key is that we always need to have a societal context in mind so that we do not loose ourselves in studying micro phenomena.