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Manuel Castells

Manuel Castells (full Spanish name: Manuel Castells Oliván ; born 1942 in Hellín, Albacete, Spain) is a sociologist associated particularly with research into the information society and communications. According to the Social Sciences Citation Index's survey of research from 2000 to 2006, Castells was ranked as the fifth most cited social sciences scholar and the foremost cited communications scholar in the world.


Raised primarily in Barcelona as part of a conservative family, Castells became politically active in the student anti-Franco movement as a teenager. His political activism necessitated fleeing the country: he finished his degree at the age of twenty in Paris. After completing a doctorate in Sociology at the University of Paris, he taught at the university between 1967 and 1979, first at the Nanterre Campus, from which he was expelled after the 1968 student protest, and then, from 1970 to 1979, at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. In 1979, he was appointed Professor of Sociology and Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2001, he also became a research professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Barcelona. In 2003, he left UC Berkeley to join the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication as a professor of communication and the first Wallis Annenberg endowed Chair of Communication and Technology. He is a founding member of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and a senior member of the Center's Faculty Advisory Council. Castells is also a member of the Annenberg Research Network on International Communication He received numerous honorary doctorates and other honours in recognition of his work.

Castells lives in Barcelona and Santa Monica, California, and is married to Emma Kiselyova


During the 1970s, Castells played a key role in the development of a Marxist urban sociology. He emphasised the role of social movements in the conflictive transformation of the urban landscape. He introduced the concept of "collective consumption" (public transport, public housing, et cetera) to frame a wide range of social struggles, displaced from the economic to the political field by state intervention. Abandoning the strictures of Marxism in the early 1980s, he began to focus on the role of new technologies in economic restructuring. In 1989, he introduced the concept of the "space of flows", by which he meant the material and immaterial components of the global information networks through which more and more of the economy was coordinated, in real time across distances. In the 1990s, he combined both strands of his research into a massive study, Information Age, published as a trilogy between 1996 and 1998. In response to the critical reception of that work at a number of large seminars held at universities across the world, a second edition was published in 2000.

Castells analysis unfolds along three basic dimensions — production, power and experience. This stresses that the organisation of the economy, of the state and its institutions, and the ways that people create meaning in their lives through collective action, are irreducible sources of social dynamics. They need to be understood in their own terms as well as in relation to one another. Applying such an analysis to the development of the Internet, Castells stresses the roles of the state (military and academia), social movements (hackers and social activists) and businesses in shaping the infrastructure according to their (conflicting) agendas.

In the trilogy, he condenses this view to the statement "Our societies are increasingly structured around the bipolar opposition of the Net and the self. The Net means the new, networked forms of organisation which are replacing vertically integrated hierarchies as the dominant form of social organization. The Self, on the other hand, relates to the multiple practices through which people try to reaffirm identity and meaning in a landscape of rapid change. Castells also coined the term 4th World.



Manuel Castells is one of the world's most highly cited social science and communication scholars and has written more than 20 books including:

  1. Castells, Manuel The Internet Galaxy, Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. Castells, Manuel The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
  3. Castells, Manuel The Power of Identity, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. II. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
  4. Castells, Manuel End of Millennium, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. III. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

  • The Urban Question. A Marxist Approach (trans: Alan Sheridan). London, Edward Arnold (1977) (Original publication in French, 1972)
  • City, Class and Power. London; New York, MacMillan; St. Martins Press (1978)
  • The Economic Crisis and American Society. Princeton, NJ, Princeton UP (1980)
  • The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements. Berkeley: University of California Press (1983)
  • The Informational City: Information Technology, Economic Restructuring, and the Urban Regional Process. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, MA: Blackwell (1989)
  • The Information Society and the Welfare State: The Finnish Model. Oxford UP, Oxford (2002) (co-author, Pekka Himanen )
  • The Network Society: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA, Edward Edgar (2004), (editor and co-author), ISBN 978-1845424350.
  • The Network Society: From Knowledge to Policy. Center for Transatlantic Relations (2006) (co-editor)
  • Mobile Communication and Society: A Global Perspective. MIT Press (2006) (co-author)

Relevant papers

Books on Manuel Castells

  • Susser, Ida. The Castells Reader on Cities and Social Theory. Oxford, Blackwell (2002)
  • Castells, Manuel; Ince, Martin. Conversations with Manuel Castells. Oxford, Polity Press (2003)
  • Stalder, Felix. Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society. Oxford, Polity Press (2006)

Online resources

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