Networks in context: the concept of network in Manuel Castells’ theory of the network society
AbstractThis article discusses the conceptualization of network in Manuel Castells’ theory of network society.
Networks appeared in Castells’ works in the late 1980s, when he became interested in the configuration of the
relationships between technology, economy, and society. The culmination of this phase was his opus magnum,
The Information Age trilogy, which introduced network as a key concept of his macro theory, even though he
remained laconic about the concept itself. This is paradoxical, for Castells became possibly the most prominent
figure globally in adopting network terminology in macro sociological theory, but at the same time made hardly
any empirical, theoretical or methodological contribution to social network analysis or network theory in general.
This implies that ‘network’ in Castells’ social theory is based on institutional network analysis. Moreover, it is not
an analytical concept but rather a powerful metaphor that served to capture his idea of the new social
morphology of informational capitalism.
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