In ‘Informationalism, Networks, and the Network Society – A Blueprint’, Castells’ main argument is that we as members of a network society, should ignore the concept of the information society, as it has been deemed, and acknowledge the ‘network society’ which has emerged from various institutions and organizations, and powers our social network.
In backing up this argument, Castells emphasises that “networks constitute the fundamental patterns of life”. Through various means of communication technology, networks exist that transcend hierarchy and order. There are no power centres, and with technological change, new content emerges which broadens the network which we are part of. Castells references the three major features of networks in supporting his argument; flexibility, scalability, and survivability. This emphasises his point, in that with the evolution of communication technology, networks will grow, requiring flexibility to accommodate the various nodes that are part of the network. There is no one main node that the network revolves around, rather in today’s’ file sharing community, every node is as important as the next, all connected to form one large network. Thus, Castells evidences how integral networks are in everyday life, deeming it a network society.
Further, Castells relates networks to culture, in supporting his argument that we live in a network society. Castells argues that culture is the “cornerstone of the network society”, as without culture, there are just networks, but with culture, comes society. Castells agrees that we live in the information age, and through the cultured network society he claims we are part of, we indeed strive for information and knowledge, yet we acquire such information through the networks we are part of, thus we could not live in the information society, without networks. Therefore, Castells evidences how our society is indeed a network society, not an information society, which it could not be without networks.
Thus, Castells shows us how a new social structure of powered social networks has emerged, which overrules the information society which we though we were once part of, and how at the centre of these social networks are institutions and organizations, both locally and globally which keep this society alive.
Castells, M “Informationalism, Networks, and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint”, from “The Network Society: A Cross-Cultural Perspective”, Edward Elgar, pg. 3 -7 and 36 – 45