requiem for certainty

Castells: Seeing Networks Everywhere He Looks

with 3 comments

A little obligatory reading lately, namely Manuel Castells on the network society.  This is for my ongoing research project on emerging internetworking practices (i.e., what most people misleadingly refer to as ‘the internet’).  Castells I regard as obligatory here insofar as my object of inquiry in many respects overlaps with that on which his impressive body of work is focused.  But in a first pass through some of his most recent suitably-sized (i.e., <50 page) self-summaries of his work, I am struck by the extent to which my method is quite different.  So what are the differences?

Castells sees in networking the advent of a new form of society premised on a network model.  I see networking as one element of a broader problematization and reconstruction of the existing conditions of possibility of our culture.  Castells sees networks as a blueprint for our culture.  I see networks as a set of practices which renders problematic our existing blueprints at the same time that it enables new blueprints which we are as yet unprepared to assess.   Castells sees in networks the logic of our present such that the networking form already contains all the problems and solutions constitutive of our present.  I see these problems and solutions as in need of rigorous inquiry insofar as the network form itself does not fully disclose our situation.  Castells seems to see networks everywhere he looks.  I am only looking at, or rather into, internetworking.

Concluding Observation: It seems that nearly every time I read a sociologist who is writing about whatever I aim to write about I detect sizable gaps.  By contrast when I read historians, anthropologists, and philosophers on my objects of inquiry, I always detect more resonances.  In any event, I am perfectly well aware that perhaps I am misinterpreting Castells (and so misrepresenting him here).  That, in short, is why I wanted to post this.  Corrections welcome and in due time before I entrench my attitude toward the network society thesis.


Written by Colin Koopman

February 7, 2009 at 2:32 am

3 Responses

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  1. It is even possible to go one step further. For a related praxical contribution using the idea of tracing and reconfiguring networks (of power for example) in order to rebuild a political project (with a critical intent indeed), see also :


    October 22, 2009 at 10:39 am

  2. I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case, great info…I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

    I’m Out! 🙂

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    January 11, 2010 at 9:10 am

  3. Opinions differ. It is O.K. You are not MISinterpreting. You are interpreting as YOU see it.

    Stock Trading Infocentre

    January 13, 2010 at 4:56 am

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