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Theories of Network Society

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Samantha Su

on 10 December 2013

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Transcript of Theories of Network Society

Conversation with Manuel Castells
Communication Network
in Political Power Making
Communication Power in 2009, successor of The power of Identity in 1997
power in network society is communication power
A turn from cognition and reasoned action to biology and emotions
The Network Society
Builds onto the foundations of the Information society and focuses on networks and their organizational forms

Theories of
the Network Society

The main figures
Jan Van Dijk
The Network Society
(1999, 2006)

Manuel Castells:
The Rise of the Network Society (part of a Trilogy)
What is a Network Society?
A new techno-economic system (society) where the key social structures and activities are organized around electronically processes information networks

Social Structures: involve the organized arrangements of humans in relations of production, consumption and reproduction, experiences and power expressed in meaningful communication coded by culture

Networks: a set of interconnected nodes, with no centre
So its not just about networks nor social networks because networks have been very old forms of social organization. It is rather about social networks which process and manage information and are using micro-electronic based technologies
Characteristics of
The new economy is organized around global networks of capital, management and information whose access to technological know-how is at the roots of productivity and competitiveness
The work process is individualized, labour is disaggregated in its performance and reintegrated in its outcome through the multiplicity of interconnected tasks in different sites, ushering in a new division of labour based on the attributes/capacities of each worker rather than on the organization of the task
For the first time, capitalist modes of production shapes social relations over the entire planet...(networks and financial flows)

Technological/technical convergence (telecoms, data comms and Mass comm) leading to:
Social integration/impact
The demise of Mass audiences
Two-way communication and interactivity
The death of time and distance
Personalized media
Globalization and Cultural standardization
Transformations in Politics and democracy (see virtual political parties, e-voting, e-reference, e-advocacy, e-news etc)
Transformation of work and employment
Networks work in binary logic of inclusion and exclusion (with processes of domination and counter domination)
Digital networks are global (emergence of globally interdependent social structures)
Adopt to operating environment and expansive
Emphasis shifted to organizational transformation
Self-reconfigarable (unity of purpose and flexibility in execution) (Appropriate for a capitalist economy based on innovation, globalization and decentralized concentration; for work, workers and firms based on flexibility and adaptability

Space of flows
Real power is to be found within networks rather than confined in global cities (Castells, 2001, 409)
Power of flows takes precedence over flows of power and
Network a place for the re-organization of power relationships
Communication Power
Power: the relational capacity that enables a social actor to influence asymmetrically the decisions of other social actors in ways that favor the empowered actor’s will, interest and values (Castells 2009, 10)
communication power is at the heart of the structure and dynamics of society (P.3)
Power holder: network programmers and switchers
Four forms of power in communication networks:
Networking power: the power over who and what is included in the network
Network power: the power of the protocols of network communication
Networked power: the power of certain nodes over other nodes
Network-making power: the capacity to set up and program a network (most important)
There is complementarity and reciprocal support between the two main mechanisms of power formation identified by theories of power: violence and discourse. (Castells 2009, 11)
The greater the autonomy provided to the users by the technologies of communication, the greater the chances that new value and new interests will enter the realm of socialized communication, so reading the public mind’ (P 8)
Technological, institutional and organizational changes ‘that together, define the transformation of communication in the digital age’
mass communication: reach a global audience
self-communication: the production of the message is self-generated
the multiple new technologies and networks enable a radically new mode of communication: ‘ they make possible the rise of what I call mass self-communication, decisively increasing the autonomy of communicating subjects vis-a-vis communication corporations, as the users become both sender and receivers of messages’ (p 4)
case studies
Conquering the minds, conquering Iraq
Scandal politics: The demise of the Spanish Socialists in the 1990s
Warming up to global warming: environmental movement in 1988
Mobilizing resistance: 2004 Spain election
The 2008 Obama presidential primary campaign
my biggest problem with Castellls’ analysis is that he is very one-sided in highlighting the liberating potential instead of opposite tendencies.—— Jan Van Dijk
The problem with Castells’ notion of power is that he sees coercive, violent, dominative power relationship as “the fundamental relations of society throughout history, geography, and cultures”…. Furthermore, Castells dismisses the “naïve image of a reconciled human community, a normative utopia that is belied by historical observation”.—— Christian Fuchs

The Network Society and Organizational Change
Identity in the Network Society
The Network Society and Organizational Change
How it’s different from what came before.
…the interaction between the network society and the power of identity and social movements. It's that interaction which, defines our world.

The Network Society is the new techno-economic system; The Power of Identity is the key -- the salient trend, in terms of social movements and politics, adapting, resisting, counteracting the network society; and then the result of these two elements expresses itself in the macro transformations of the world…
When this new structure comes into play, the capacity of the society to process information and to learn has extraordinary consequences, does it not?
An example—The global economy: the global economy is not the same
thing as the world economy of a highly internationalized economy. It‘s
not. Because the global economy is based on the ability of the core
activities -- meaning money, capital markets, production systems,
management systems, information -- to work as a unit in real time on a
planetary scale. Meaning that, at this point, we can process, and we do,
billions and billions of dollars in seconds. And that can change from
values to values, from markets to markets, from currencies to currencies,
which increases the complexity, the size, and, ultimately, the volatility of
global financial markets around the world. Which makes, in fact,
impossible any kind of autonomy of financial markets in one country or
one place vis-à-vis what's happening in the global system; which,
therefore, makes extremely difficult any kind of monetary and budget
policy which does not take into consideration the global financial market.
Identity in the Network Society
the irony of how globalized flows on the one hand lead to a redefinition, a reassertion of identity in localities.

it is paradoxical. And, in fact, it‘s a paradox that he found empirically in his research. Castells started from the technology side, the network side, and then he found that part of the story about the transformation of power did not correspond to that logic, but to the logic of resisting the domination of values implemented through these very effective networks and trying to provide alternative meaning.

‘A network is a set of interconnected nodes. A node is the point where the curve intersects itself. Networks are very old forms of social organization. But they have taken on a new life in the Information Age by becoming information networks, powered by new information technologies.’
Castells, M. (2000). ‘Materials for an exploratory theory of the network society’. British Journal of Sociology 51(1): 5-24. Available at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

major advantage and problem
On the one hand, networks are the most flexible
On the other hand, they have considerable difficulty in co-ordinating functions
Castells, M. (2000). ‘Materials for an exploratory theory of the network society’. British Journal of Sociology 51(1): 5-24. Available at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Networks is flexible
Within the network, contact between the flow without any distance, or with the same distance.
But for the first time, the introduction of new information/communication technologies allows networks to keep their flexibility and adaptability, thus asserting their evolutionary nature.

Stanley Milgram Six Degrees of Separation
Networks needs co-ordinated
In the network, as long as they have a common information coding, they can achieve connet, constituting a network society.
While, at the same time, these technologies allow for co-ordination and management of complexity.

Stanley Milgram Six Degrees of Separation
Six Degrees of Separation
Everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.
Information influence :
A social structure is transformed when there is simultaneous and systemic transformation of relationships of production/consumption, power, and experience, ultimately leading to a transformation of culture.
Relationships of Production
Networks change the two terms of the relationship (capital, labour), and their relationship.
In this sense, capital in the Information Age has become a human-made automaton, which, through mediations, imposes its structural determination to relationships of production. (see Castells 2000b).
labour's informational capacity, by ensuring the possibility of strategic positioning in the network, leads to a second, fundamental cleavage, between self-programmable labour and generic labour.
Castells, M. (2000). ‘Materials for an exploratory theory of the network society’. British Journal of Sociology 51(1): 5-24. Available at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

The process of production is more important in the networks. In the network society, people are more use informationization means to participate in the production and the work, therefore, where they work, when work, working for several companies, etc., all have great flexibility.
In the process of information technology paradigm of labor, workers will be divided into network workers and labor by Internet connection, network.
In addition, in the society of the informatization and networking, information technology will become a key part of the labor process (Castells, 1996).
Social structures are sets of organizational regularities historically produced by social actors, and constantly challenged, and ultimately transformed by deliberate social action.

Yunlei Xu
Chun Yang
Danli Sun
Yujia Su
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