Manuel Castells

Manuel Castells
Manuel Castells in 2009

Manuel Castells (Spanish name: Manuel Castells Oliván, born in Hellín, Albacete, Spain, in 1942) is a sociologist especially associated with information society and communication research.

The 2000–09 research survey of the Social Sciences Citation Index ranks him as the world’s fifth most-cited social science scholar, and the foremost-cited communication scholar.[1] He is a member of the International Ethical, Scientific and Political Collegium, a leadership and expertise organisation for developing means of overcoming the problems to establishing a peaceful, socially just, and economically sustainable world.



Manuel Castells was raised primarily in Barcelona. Although from a conservative family, he was politically active in the student anti-Franco movement, an adolescent political activism that forced him to flee Spain for France. In Paris, at the age of twenty, he completed his degree studies, then progressed to the University of Paris, where he earned a doctorate in sociology. At the age of twenty-four, Dr Castells became an instructor at the University of Paris, from 1967 to 1979; first at the Paris X University Nanterre, who fired him because of the 1968 student protests, then at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, from 1970 to 1979. Subsequently in 1979, in the US, the University of California, Berkeley appointed him to two professorships; Professor of Sociology, and Professor of City and Regional Planning. In 2001, he was a research professor at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Barcelona. In 2003, he joined the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication, as a Professor of Communication and the first Walter Annenberg-endowed Chair of Communication and Technology. Prof. Castells is a founding member of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and a senior member of the diplomacy center's Faculty Advisory Council; and is a member of the Annenberg Research Network on International Communication. Prof. Castells divides his residence between Spain and the US; he is married to Emma Kiselyova. Since 2008 he has been a member of the governing board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.


The sociological work of Prof. Manuel Castells Oliván synthesises empirical research literature with combinations of urban sociology, organization studies, internet studies, social movements, sociology of culture, and political economy. About the origins of the network society, he posits that changes to the network form of enterprise predate the electronic internet technologies (usually) associated with network organization forms (cf. Castells and Organization Theory). Moreover, he coined the (academic) term “The Fourth World”, denoting the sub-population(s) socially excluded from the global society; usual usage denotes the nomadic, pastoral, and hunter-gatherer ways of life beyond the contemporary industrial society norm.

In the 1970s, following the path of Alain Touraine (his intellectual father),[2] Castells was a key developer of the variety of Marxist urban sociology that emphasises the role of social movements in the conflictive transformation of the city, (cf. post-industrial society).[3] He introduced the concept of "collective consumption" (public transport, public housing, et cetera) comprehending a wide range of social struggles — displaced from the economic stratum to the political stratum via state intervention. Transcending Marxist strictures in the early 1980s, he concentrated upon the role of new technologies in the restructuring of an economy. In 1989, he introduced the concept of the "space of flows", the material and immaterial components of global information networks used for the real-time, long-distance co-ordination of the economy. In the 1990s, he combined his two research strands in The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, published as a trilogy, The Rise of the Network Society (1996), The Power of Identity (1997), and End of Millennium (1998); two years later, its worldwide, favourable critical acceptance in university seminars, prompted publication of a second (2000) edition that is 40 per cent different from the first (1996) edition.[4]

The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture comprehends three sociologic dimensions — production, power, and experience — stressing 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 — that must be understood as both discrete and inter-related entities. Moreover, he became an established cybernetic culture theoretician with his Internet development analysis stressing the roles of the state (military and academic), social movements (computer hackers and social activists), and business, in shaping the economic infrastructure according to their (conflicting) interests. The Information Age trilogy is his précis: "Our societies are increasingly structured around the bipolar opposition of the Net and the Self";[5] the “Net” denotes the network organisations replacing vertically integrated hierarchies as the dominant form of social organization, the Self denotes the practices a person uses in reaffirming social identity and meaning in a continually changing cultural landscape.


Prof. Manuel Castells Oliván is one of the world's most often-cited social science and communications scholars;[6][7] he has written more than twenty books, including:

  • The Urban Question. A Marxist Approach (Alan Sheridan, translator). 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 Age trilogy:
  1. Castells, Manuel (1996, second edition, 2000). The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0631221401. 
  2. Castells, Manuel (1997, second edition, 2004). The Power of Identity, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. II. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell. ISBN 978-1405107136. 
  3. Castells, Manuel (1998, second edition, 2000). End of Millennium, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. III. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0631221395. 
  • The Internet Galaxy, Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society. Oxford, Oxford University Press (2001)
  • 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 Elgar (2004), (editor and co-author), ISBN 978-1845424350.
  • The Network Society: From Knowledge to Policy. Washington, DC, Center for Transatlantic Relations (2006) (co-editor)
  • Mobile Communication and Society: A Global Perspective. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press (2006) (co-author)
  • Epilogue of Pekka Himanen's The Hacker Ethic.
  • Castells, Manuel (2009,). Communication power. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 608. ISBN 9780199567041. 

Recent Journal Articles

Pertinent papers

Books about 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)


External resources

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