Review of Castells, The Information Age *

By J.C. Nyíri

Manual Castells' celebrated three-volume book The Information Age - Economy, Society and Culture, the first volume of which appeared in 1996, and the last in January 1998, [1] is difficult to interpret. It is too long; it often uses metaphors instead of providing clear-cut arguments; and the author, a frustrated Marxist, seems most of the time reluctant to speak in his own voice. In this review, I shall proceed as follows. First, I will try to convey a general picture, or impression, of Castells' magnum opus by citing from the publishers' summaries, and from some of his own summary passages in the book. I will then concentrate on a single phrase of Castells - "space of flows", his most famous phrase - and try to uncover its meaning by tracing it, in a kind of backward narrative, to its first occurrence in his work, in the essay "Crisis, Planning, and the Quality of Life" written in 1982. [2] "Crisis..." was a highly interesting and important essay; I will summarize its main theses, and then follow up those theses, this time in a forward narrative, through some of Castells's main writings, arriving at the book The Information Age once more. My concluding questions at that stage will be: what is new in the book? what has changed? what is its basic message?

    As befits the purpose of this review, I will freely make use of numerous and extended quotes.

    There is a blurb on the front inner cover of the first volume of The Information Age, [3] one on the rear inner cover of the second volume, and one on the front inner cover of the third volume. [4] The one in the second volume is taken from the concise summarizing passages with which Castells himself there begins:

Our world, and our lives, are being shaped by the conflicting trends of globalization and identity. The information technology revolution, and the restructuring of capitalism, have induced a new form of society, the network society. It is characterized by the globalization of strategically decisive economic activities. By the flexibility and instability of work, and the individualization of labor. By a culture of real virtuality constructed by a pervasive, interconnected, and diversified media system. And by the transformation of material foundations of life, space and time, through the constitution of a space of flows and of timeless time, as expressions of dominant activities and controlling elites. This new form of social organization, in its pervasive globality, is diffusing throughout the world, as industrial capitalism and its twin enemy, industrial statism, did in the twentieth century, shaking institutions, transforming cultures, creating wealth and inducing poverty, spurring greed, innovation, and hope, while simultaneously imposing hardship and instilling despair. It is indeed, brave or not, a new world. - ... Along with the technological revolution, the transformation of capitalism, and the demise of statism, we have experienced, in the last quarter of the century, the widespread surge of poweful expressions of collective identity that challenge globalization and cosmopolitanism on behalf of cultural singularity and people's control over their lives and environment. These expressions are multiple, highly diversified, following the contours of each culture, and of historical sources of formation of each identity. They include proactive movements, aiming at transforming human relationships at their most fundamental level, such as feminism and environmentalism. But they also include a whole array of reactive movements that build trenches of resistance on behalf of God, nation, ethnicity, family, locality, that is, the fundamental categories of millenial existence now threatened under the combined, contradictory assault of techno-economic forces and transformative social movements. Caught between these opposing ends, the nation-state is called into question, drawing into its crisis the very notion of political democracy, predicated upon the historical construction of a sovereign, representative nation-state. [5]
Then there is an important summary in Chapter 5 ("A Powerless State?") in the same volume:
[I]n the 1990s, nation-states have been transformed from sovereign subjects into strategic actors, playing their interests, and the interests they are supposed to represent, in a global system of interaction, in a condition of systematically shared sovereignty. They marshal considerable influence, but they barely hold power by themselves, in isolation from supranational macro-forces and subnational micro-processes. On the one hand, to foster productivity and competitiveness of their economies they must ally themselves closely with global economic interests, and abide by global rules favorable to capital flows, while their societies are being asked to wait patiently for their trickled down benefits of corporate ingenuity. ... on the other hand, nation-states survive beyond historical inertia because of the defensive communalism of nations and people in their territories, hanging onto their last refuge not to be pulled away by the whirlwind of global flows. Thus, the more states emphasize communalism, the less effective they become as co-agents of a global system of shared power. The more they triumph in the planetary scene, the less they represent their national constituencies. End of millennium politics, almost everywhere in the world, is dominated by this fundamental contradiction. [6]
And still in volume two, in "Conclusion: Social Change in the Network Society", Castells closes his argument by saying:
the main agency detected in our journey across the lands inhabited by social movements, is a networking, decentered form of organization and intervention, characteristic of the new social movements, mirroring, and counteracting, the networking logic of domination in the informational society. ... These networks do more than organizing activity and sharing information. They are the actual producers, and distributors, of cultural codes. Not only over the Net, but in their multiple forms of exchange and interaction. Their impact on society rarely stems from a concerted strategy, masterminded by a center. Their most successful campaigns, their most striking initiatives, often result from "turbulences" in the interactive network of multilayered communication... ... It is this decentered, subtle character of networks of social change that makes it so difficult to perceive, and identify, new identity projects coming into being. ... It is in these back alleys of society, whether in alternative electronic networks or in grassrooted networks of communal resistance, that I have sensed the embryos of a new society, labored in the fields of history by the power of identity. [7]
This is a particularly significant passage, since, on the one hand, Castells here clearly speaks in his own voice, but, on the other hand, what he says does not seem to correspond to the overall results of The Information Age. Those results are, again, summarized in the opening passages of the third volume:
In the last quarter of this fading century, a technological revolution, centered around information, has transformed the way we think, we produce, we consume, we trade, we manage, we communicate, we live, we die, we make war, and we make love. A dynamic, global economy has been constituted around the planet, linking up valuable people and activities from all over the world, while switching off from the networks of power and wealth, people and territories dubbed as irrelevant from the perspective of dominant interests. A culture of real virtuality, constructed around an increasingly interactive audiovisual universe, has permeated mental representation and communication everywhere, integrating the diversity of cultures in an electronic hypertext. Space and time, the material foundations of human experience, have been transformed, as the space of flows dominates the space of places, and timeless time supersedes clock time of the industrial era. Expressions of social resistance to the logic of informationalization and globalization build around primary identities, creating defensive communities in the name of God, locality, ethnicity, or family. At the same time, founding social institutions as important as patriarchalism and the nation-state are called into question under the combined pressure of globalization of wealth and information, and localization of identity and legitimacy. [8]
    The last section of volume three - "Conclusion: Making Sense of our World" - contains two particularly notable summary passages. The first is notable because it shows Castells at his worst - juggling with metaphors:
Under the informational paradigm, a new culture has emerged from the superseding of places and the annihilation of time by the space of flows and by timeless time: the culture of real virtuality. ... by real virtuality I mean a system in which reality itself (that is, people's material/symbolic existence) is fully immersed in a virtual image setting, in the world of make believe, in which symbols are not just metaphors, but comprise the actual experience. This is not the consequence of electronic media, although they are the indispensable instruments of expression in the new culture. The material basis that explains why real virtuality is able to take over people's imagination and systems of representation is their livelihood in the space of flows and timeless time. On the one hand, dominant functions and values in society are organized in simultaneity without contiguity; that is, in flows of information that escape from the experience embodied in any locale. On the other hand, dominant values and interests are constructed without reference to either past or future, in the timeless landscape of computer networks and electronic media, where all expressions are either instantaneous, or without predictable sequencing. All expressions from all times and from all spaces are mixed in the same hypertext, constantly rearranged, and communicated at any time, anywhere, depending on the interests of senders and the moods of receivers. This virtuality is our reality because it is within the framework of these timeless, placeless, symbolic systems that we construct the categories, and evoke the images, that shape behavior, induce politics, nurture dreams, and trigger nightmares. [9]
The second is notable because it shows Castells at his best: devising, and convincingly explaining, a felicitous new concept, this time that of the network state:
Nation-states will survive, but not so their sovereignty. They will band together in multilateral networks, with a variable geometry of commitments, responsibilities, alliances, and subordinations. ... The state does not disappear... It is simply downsized in the Information Age. It proliferates under the form of local and regional governments, which dot the world with their projects, build up constituencies, and negotiate with national governments, multinational corporations, and international agencies. The era of globalization of the economy is also the era of localization of polity. What local and regional governments lack in power and resources, they make up in flexibility and networking. They are the only match, if any, to the dynamism of global networks of wealth and information. [10]
However, the very last sentences of the book, again, do not seem to correspond to any of the foregoing analyses, concepts, or metaphors. This is the note on which Castells ends:
There is nothing that cannot be changed by conscious, purposive social action, provided with information, and supported by legitimacy. If people are informed, active, and communicate throughout the world; if business assumes its social responsibility; if the media become the messengers, rather than the message; if political actors react against cynicism, and restore belief in democracy; if culture is reconstructed from experience; if humankind feels the solidarity of the species throughout the globe; if we assert intergenerational solidarity by living in harmony with nature; if we depart for the exploration of our inner self, having made peace among ourselves. If all this is made possible by our informed, conscious, shared decision, while there is still time, maybe then, we may, at last, be able to live and let live, love and be loved. [11]
    In my view, then, The Information Age is an ambiguous book. But I think some of its ambiguities can be resolved by studying it against the background of Castells' earlier work. As I indicated above, it is in particular the prehistory of his phrase "space of flows" I will try to retrace. This phrase, clearly, plays a prominent role in The Information Age; it is, however, of earlier coinage, and has been often and widely quoted. [12] The references are usually to Castells' The Informational City. [13] In that book the author in fact at the very beginning of his argument points to "the emergence of a space of flows which dominates the historically constructed space of places, as the logic of dominant organizations detaches itself from the social constraints of cultural identities and local societies through the powerful medium of information technologies." And the main aim of his analyses, Castells here stresses, is to examine "alternative spatial projects that may be pursued in counteraction of the domination of flows." [14] In contrast to The Age of Information, however, in The Informational City the oblique metaphor "space of flows" is quite often complemented by straightforward expressions like "flows of information", "organizational networks", [15] or a "complex web of interaction". [16] Still, the tendency to make the network into an independent agent is, occasionally and vaguely, here too present. Castells speaks of "the supersession of places by a network of information flows", [17] or even says: "People live in places, power rules through flows." [18] Earlier the same tendency made itself felt in Castells' 1985 paper "High Technology, Economic Restructuring, and the Urban-Regional Process in the United States", [19] where he used the formulation "we increasingly observe a space of flows substituting a space of places". [20] He also made two interesting references here, giving sources for the phrase. One of the references is to James Martin's Telematic Society (1981). Castells does not specify a page number, and I have not succeeded in locating the phrase "space of flows" in Martins book. The nearest places I found were these:
It seems probable ... that technology will not yet bring equal communication channels to all people. It will not completely open windows between nations. The wired world will have multiple cultures, and they will be woven into global patterns by telecommunications and agreements between nations. ... - When we speak of great civilizations today, we refer to geographically bounded regions such as ancient Greece, eighteenth-century France, modern America. It is possible that after a few decades of global communications, 'civilizations' will be worldwide threads. A postindustrial Western civilization may link the world's English-speaking peoples. Chinese, Latin American, or Third World civilizations may also become global threads but with fundamentally different values and cultures. ... - In cosmopolitan cities the different threads will merge. ... ... patriotism is declining and may decline more with decades of advanced global communications. Some people will feel more loyalty to their global cultural thread than to their country. ... ... The shape of cultural patterns is often determined more by money than by aesthetic or abstract values. The imperative to maximize profits will increasingly be an imperative to market internationally and hence design products for international markets. The better the worldwide flow of information, the more practical this will be. [21]
The other reference is to Castells' paper mentioned earlier, written in 1982, published in 1983. I will in a moment turn to that paper; but let me first list yet another work by Castells, his famous book The City and the Grassroots, which too was published in 1983. The idea of a "space of flows" is not absent from this book either. As Castells there puts it: "The main spatial impact of the new technology, based upon the twin revolutions in communication systems and microelectronics, is the transformation of spatial places into flows and channels - what amounts to production and consumption without any localized form." [22] Or another passage: "a space of variable geometry, formed by locations hier-archically ordered in a continuously changing network of flows: flows of capital, labour, elements of production, commodities, information, decisions, and signals. ... The new source of power relies on the control of the entire network of information. Space is dissolved into flows." [23]

    In "Crisis, Planning, and the Quality of Life" Castells points to "the new dominant interests and the new social revolts" tending to "dissociate the space of organizations and the space of experience". As he explains:

on the one hand, the space of power is being transformed into flows. On the other hand, the space of meaning is being reduced to microterritories of new tribal communities. In between, cities and societies disappear. Information tends to be dissociated from communication. Power is being separated from political representation. And production is increasingly dissociated from consumption, with both processes being piecemealed in a series of spatially distinct operations whose unity is only recomposed by a hidden abstract logic. The horizon of such a historical tendency is the destruction of human experience, therefore of communication, and therefore of society. [24]
This is clear language, expressing a left-wing Marxist's predicament at seeing capitalism having successfully survived the crisis of the 1970s, with poverty and misery however in many places increasing rather than decreasing, with the exploiters becoming invisible, and the exploited and excluded lacking an adequate revolutionary consciousness.

    Castells does indeed note that "[f]rom the point of view of the dominant class", too, there are some necessary "limits to this tendency towards delocalization of production and consumption", since "'capital' means capitalists, managers, and technocrats; that is, people are culturally defined and oriented, and are certainly not ready to become flows themselves". [25]To this problem, the solution of the dominant class is, in essence, to protect "an exclusive space of residence". [26] Another obstacle to the delocalization of space, writes Castells, is that the new technological and economic model, which he calls the "informational mode of development", still "requires some concentrated centers for production of knowledge and storage of information, as well as centers for emission of images and information". Also, "factories, fields, housing, and services for workers and peasants cannot be delocalized". [27]To this problem - the argument goes on - the dominant class reacts by creating an "increasing hierarchy and specialization of spatial functions and forms according to their location", by fostering "the decomposition of the processes of work and management so that different tasks can be performed in different places and assembled through signals (in the case of information) or through advanced transportation technology (standardized assembly pieces shipped away from very remote points of production". [28] As Castells sums it up:

The new space of a world capitalist system that combines the informational and the industrial modes of development is a space of variable geometry, formed by locations hierarchically ordered in a continuously changing network of flows: flows of capital, of labor, of elements of production, of commodities, of information, of decisions, of signals. ... The new source of power relies on the control of the entire network of information. Space is dissolved into flows... It is the space of collective alienation and of individual violence, transformed by undifferentiated feedbacks into a flow that never stops and never starts. [29]
    References to the "dominant class" and to "technocrats" notwithstanding, then, the agent of capitalist disruption and ex- ploitation is, for Castells, the network of information itself, diffuse, anonymous, unfathomable. The phrase "undifferentiated feedbacks" is telling. How to fight the network? Castells here faces an obvious dilemma. Either the exploited accept being excluded from the network: in which case their opposition to global capitalism can only result in seclusion, in a kind of tribal regression. Or they find ways to establish networks themselves: but then those networks, again, will either remain self- contained, parochial, and powerless, or else merge with the global network - and run the risk of losing their original impetus.

    We must of course recall that "networks" in the early 1980s meant not so much computer networks, as rather media networks. When Castells wrote: "Interactive systems of communication and computerized dissemination of knowledge ... have ... developed enough to dramatically improve, instead of reduce, the amount of communication and information among people, as well as the cultural diversity of their messages" [30], he referred to something that was just emerging. [31] His focus was on mass media:

the monopoly of the messages by capital-controlled or state-controlled mass media, as well as the monopoly of information by the technocracy, has generated a reaction by local communities emphasizing the construction of alternatifsve cultures and patterns of communication through face-to-face interaction and the revival of oral tradition. The delocalization of communication and culture by centralized one-way information flows is being met by the localization of communication networks on the basis of cultural communities and social networks which are territorially rooted. The cultural uniformity of mass media is met by the cultural specificity of spatially based interpersonal networks. Thus, although informational technocrats dissolve the space in their flows, distrustful people increasingly tend to rely on experience as their basic source of information. [32]
a reaction is in progress all over the world against the monopoly of messages by mass media; against the penetration and destruction of national, ethnic, or local cultures by uniform codes; and against the structural limits of face-to-face interaction. Most of these reactions take the form of subcultural communities closing the doors behind them and opposing all messages from the outside. Such a process is most threatening because it actually shatters human interaction between a myriad of fragments of existence that, developing in autonomous and separate ways, will become unable to understand each other. [33]
But even if subcultural communities decide on, and succeed in, setting up media networks of their own, there will be the danger, Castells writes, of a "coexistence both of the monopoly of messages by the big networks and of the increasingly narrow codes of local microcultures around their parochial cable TVs". [34]

Now Castells has a program to offer, one that promises a solution to the dilemma articulated above:

we are trying to maintain the diversity of autonomous or semiautonomous cultures and to make possible their capacity of communicating between each other and with the "global culture" (meaning the culture institutionalized by the state and by economic powers). Therefore, we must actively support neighborhood culture, and even emergent counter-cultures. ... - ... What matters is the basic purpose: to stimulate a powerful development of grassroots autonomous culture; to recognize the fact that such a culture in our society is audio-visual; to inter-  connect these cultural expressions to avoid tribalism; to organize connections between the major cultural senders to avoid localism; and finally, to introduce interactive systems at as many levels as possible to establish the two-way flow that is the material precondition of any process of communication. Maybe then our cities and our neighborhoods will be able to overcome their isolation. At least, if public policies cannot create human emotion, they can let it flow under the conditions we specified. [35]
This program of preventing "the dissolution of cultures and regions into abstract flows of technocratic decisions" [36] must have seemed at the time, and to me still seems today, to be both intelligible and realistic. It did, in a sense, even satisfy Castells himself. As he put it:
If we succeed in turning the crisis into a process of change, it will not be the revolution of our dreams that historical experience has, in fact, turned into actual nightmares; it will be an experiment into new ways of work, consumption, and politics. We will not recover the lost paradise of a quality of life that never existed, except for an aristocratic elite, but we will control the development of a new history based on the creative expression of a diversity of social actors and on the dynamic management of the conflicts arising in the process. Maybe we will then be reaching the true quality of life: when life will be able to flow and irrigate our experience without fear and without limits." [37]
    In the course of the 1980s and 1990s three major developments occurred. First, networking increasingly came to mean computer networking, bringing radically new ways of communication, access, and exclusion. Secondly, religious and ethnic fundamentalism spread dramatically. And thirdly, with the fall of communism, there emerged a unipolar global system. It appears that Castells, occasionally disheartened, but basically still hopeful in the 1980s, in the light of these developments became, ultimately, disillusioned with his earlier program, without however being able to supplant it with a new one. Hence the verbosity, the metaphors, and the ambiguities, in The Information Age. Let us now trace, very briefly, the main stages of Castells journey to that work.

    The City and the Grassroots was, as indicated above, written at about the same time as was "Crisis, Planning, and the Quality of Life". Most passages of the latter appear verbatim in the former, but of course the book, with its over four hundred pages, offers explanations and arguments much more detailed than does the essay. Thus for instance there is, in the book, a rather hair-splitting elucidation, in the worst Marxist style, of the concept "informational mode of development". Modes of development, Castells stresses in the wake of Touraine, must be carefully distinguished from modes of production; the concept of a mode of development "refers to the particular form in which labour, matter, and energy are combined in work to obtain the product. Work is certainly related to social (class) relationships, but, in addition to the way through which the surplus is appropriated, it is also important to understand how the surplus is increased." [38] There are two types of mode of development, Castells here points out, the industrial and the informational, and then goes on to give a slightly confused explanation: "For the informational mode of production, productivity is based on knowledge... Informationalism is orientated towards technological development, that is, towards the accumulation of knowledge." [39]

    Whereas in "Crisis, Planning, and the Quality of Life" the topic of nation-states is not touched upon, The City and the Grassroots does contain some relevant considerations. Castells formulates the "hypothesis" that "the nation-states tend to be the mediators between the multinational corporations dominating uneven economic growth and the local communities trying to rebuild a new urban world on their own from debris of their disrupted rural past and from the memory of their cherished traditions." [40] Later in the book this is way he sums up his position - a position he will significantly modify in the course of the 1980s and 1990s:

The capitalist mode of production, and the industrial and informational modes of development are territorially differentiated and integrated at the world level in an asymmetrical manner. Not only is there a core and a periphery, but there are a series of levels in these inter-relationships, levels that shift from time to time and from dimension to dimension... we live in a world-wide system organized around relationships of dependency between societies, and in a dependency of variable geometry according to the nation, the time, and the dimension on which dependency is considered. Because relationships of production are integrated at the world-wide level, while experience is culturally specific and power is still concentrated in the nation-states, our world exists in a three-dimensional space whose dynamics tend to be disjoined. The nation-states of dependent societies are the key elements in avoiding disintegration, but only on the condition that they mobilize (and if necessary construct) their nations to impose new relationships to the centre of the system. [41]
    And then there are, in this book, some very clear formulations as regards the significance of local politics. Castells writes:
faced with an overpowered labour movement, an omnipresent one-way communication system indifferent to cultural identities, an all-powerful centralized state loosely governed by unreliable political parties, a structural economic crisis, cultural uncertainty, and the likelihood of nuclear war, people go home. Most withdraw individually, but the crucial, active minority, anxious to retaliate, organize themselves on their local turf. They react against the exploitation-alienation-oppression that the city has come to represent. They may be unable to control the international flows of capital, but they can impose conditions on any multinational wishing to set up in their community. Although not against the television networks they do insist that some broadcasts are made in their language at peak-viewing hours; and they do keep their local celebrations to which the media takes second place. ... when people find themselves unable to control the world, they simply shrink the world to the size of their community. [42]
    The volume High Technology, Space and Society, which Castells edited in 1985, contains a number of highly interesting papers, some of them by authors who had earlier more or less belonged to Castells' Berkeley circle of graduate students. Thus AnnaLee Saxenian's "Silicon Valley and Route 128: Regional Prototypes or Historic Exceptions?", summarizing her pioneering researches into the effects of microelectronics production on settlement patterns; [43] or Lionel Nicol's "Communications Technology: Economic and Spatial Impacts", criticizing the view that telecommunications would lead to decentralization. [44] Castells' own contribution to the volume, the paper "High Technology, Economic Restructuring, and the Urban-Regional Process in the United States", is from our present point of view interesting because it shows Castells in the process of acquiring some early perceptions of the coming of computer networking; [45] and because in this paper, too, he reiterates his central idea:
along with territorial sprawl, metropolitan decentralization, and individualization of the residential landscape, the new technologies also enhance, simultaneously, the importance of a few places as locations of those activities that cannot be easily transformed into flows and that still require spatial contiguity, thus reinforcing considerably the intraurban hierarchy. In the informational city, spatial singularity and urban centrality become even more important than in the industrial-commercial city, precisely because of their unique locational requirements. ... requirements for spatial contiguity and face-to-face interaction. ... Flows connect networks that are functionally useful and socially valued. Nodal places nest the most important activities and welcome the new residential elite. ... The issue arises that in such a structure organized around flows, people, activities, and cultures that are not valued ... could easily be switched off the network. And in a city where the only meaningful places are the ones associated with the highest functions, the place with meaning for only a few tends to be the space of exclusion for the most. [46]
Significant is the phrase the space of exclusion for the most. A new tone of bitterness can here be discerned in Castells' voice; a tone that will become dominant by the late 1990s. But first there erupts the resurgent, at places almost millennian, mood of The Informational City, completed in 1988.

    This is the book in which Castells, for the first and the last time, can actually bring himself to believe that the new information technologies might have a politically liberating potential. The book reviews, reformulates, and enriches Castells' main themes: the concept of the informational mode of development; [47] the idea of networks as "the emerging organizational form of our world"; [48] the contention that the state has always played, and still plays, an essential role in maintaining the market economy; [49] the formula of spatial segmentation ("[t]he technical and social division of labor in information-technology industries", Castells writes, "not only allows for their spatial segmentation, but actually causes it" [50]); the explanation for the persistence of a "centralized locational pattern for the top level of information-intensive industries"; [51] the notion of the "dual city"; [52] or the theory of milieux of innovation. [53] What he is really interested in here, however, are the possibilities of a new localism, and on these speaks in no uncertain terms:

sometimes ... a utopian vision is needed ... to enable people to think the unthinkable... ... Unless alternative, realistic policies, fostered by new social movements, can be found to reconstruct the social meaning of localities within the space of flows, our societies will fracture into non-communicative segments whose reciprocal alienation will lead to destructive violence and to a process of historical decline. [54]
The "globalization of power flows" and "the tribalization of local communities", Castell stresses, are part of the same "fundamental process of historical restructuring: the growing dissociation between techno-economic development and the corresponding mechanisms of social control of such developments". [55] The importance of state and local governments, Castells writes, are enhanced when
[t]he traditional structures of social and political control over development, work, and distribution, have been subverted by the placeless logic of an internationalized economy enacted by the means of information flows. The ultimate challenge of this fundamental dimension of the restructuring process is the possibility that the local state, and therefore people's control over their lives, will fade away, unless democracy is reinvented to match the space of flows with the power of places. [56]
Castells here restates, in an elaborated form, his 1982 program:
The reconstruction of place-based social meaning requires the simultaneous articulation of alternative social and spatial projects at three levels: cultural, economic, and political. - At the cultural level, local societies, territorially defined, must preserve their identities, and build upon their historical roots, regardless of their economic and functional dependence upon the space of flows. The symbolic marking of places, the preservation of symbols of recognition, the expression of collective memory in actual practices of communication, are fundamental means by which places may continue to exist as such, without having to justify their existence by the fulfillment of their functional performance. However, to avert the danger of over-affirmation of a local identity without reference to any broader social framework of reference at least two additional strategies are required: on the one hand, they must build communication codes with other identities, codes that require the definition of communities as sub-cultures able to recognize and to communicate with higher-order cultures; and on the other they must link the affirmation and symbolic practice of cultural identity to economic policy and political practice. They may thereby overcome the dangers of tribalism and fundamentalism. [57]
    In order for local governments to be able to achieve this goal, they must make use of the new communication technologies. They "need to establish their own networks of information, decision making, and strategic alliances, in order to match the mobility of power-holding organizations. In other words, they must reconstruct an alternative space of flows on the basis of the space of places." [58] However, Castells stresses, technology by itself will not suffice. Social mobilization, political determination, and coordinated strategies are indispensable if local governments "are to challenge collectively the power of flows and to reinstate the counterpower of places". [59]

    Castells' hopes for a cultural, economic, and political revival on a local level have become subdued by 1993. This was the year when the joint volume by Carnoy, Castells, Cohen, and Cardoso, The New Global Economy in the Information Age, was published. [60] There is an introduction to the volume, apparently a collective work by the four authors, in which the unchanged, crucial importance of nation-states is emphasized. [61] Castells' own chapter bears the title "The Information Economy and the New International Division of Labor". Here Castells speaks about "the rise of a Fourth World, made up of marginalized economies in the retarded rural areas of three continents and in the sprawling shantytowns of African, Asian, and Latin American cities". [62] He addresses a structural crisis, "fundamentally linked to the incapacity of a number of countries ... to adapt to the new conditions of economic growth", [63] a crisis which might lead to "a plurality of collective reactions, all of them having high destructive potential". Such reactions are: establishing new linkages with the global economy by joining the criminal economy; collective or individual violence; and the rise of ideological and religious fundamentalism. [64] Castells warns:

If the rise of the Fourth World is not countervailed by a deliberate reform of the current world development model, the informational economy of the twenty-first century will have to reckon not only with the depressing image of starving children, but with the proliferation of powerful worldwide criminal mafias, dramatic interethnic violence, and a profound fundamentalist groundswell that will shake our tolerance and shatter our newly found peace. [65]
This is a bleak picture indeed. However, Castells here still has some hopes as regards "the rise of a new, democratic Russia", and "the mobilization of the scientific and technical human potential that now exists, vastly underutilized, in many areas (in Hungary and the Baltic republics, for instance)". [66] By the late 1990s those hopes, too, must have vanished.

    The back cover of The New Global Economy carries an intriguing sentence: "The authors came together in Moscow in March 1992 to advise the Yeltsin government on political economic policy using the results of their analysis in this book." Volume one of The Information Age has more on the same. It turns out that in 1992 Castells chaired an Advisory Committee to the Russian Government on the Social Problem of the Transition. [67] In a report the committee delivered in April 1992, they wrote:

A market economy does not operate outside of an institutional context. The key task for the Reform Movement in Russia today is to build the institutional context in order to create the conditions necessary for a market economy. ... This social, political, and institutional infrastructure includes many elements, such as: laws, rules, codes, and procedures for resolving conflicts, for determining responsibility, ... for defining and bounding property rights. [It is also necessary] to generate quickly a widespread conviction that those rules are indeed the rules governing economic life, and not just pieces of paper. For that to happen, a functioning public administration is needed. The market is not a substitute for the state: it is a complement. Without it the market cannot work. [68]
The report, as Castells himself tells us, did not achieve much, [69] an outcome which, however, has not severed Castells' close connections with Russia. The field work which he had begun there in 1989 continued until 1996. [70] Thus he had access, for instance, to first-hand information on how, by the mid-1990s, "the military-industrial sector, the heart of Soviet industry, was essentially wrecked", or how "science and technology institutions were in shambles". [71]

    At the beginning of volume three of The Information Age Castells writes:

It is no accident that the volume opens with an analysis of the collapse of Soviet communism. The 1917 Russian Revolution, and the international communist movement that it sparked, has been the dominant political and ideological phenomenon of the twentieth century. Communism, and the Soviet Union, and the opposite reactions they have triggered throughout the world, have marked decisively societies and people for the span of the century. And yet, this mighty empire, and its powerful mythology, disintegrated in a just a few years, in one of the most extraordinary instances of unexpected historical change. I argue that at the roots of this process, marking the end of a historical epoch, lies the inability of statism to manage the transition to the Information Age. [72]
    What characterizes the Information Age, Castells in this book again points out, "is not the centrality of knowledge and information, but the application of such knowledge and information to knowledge generation and information processing/communication devices, in a cumulative feedback loop between innovation and the uses of innovation". [73] Some other main topics, many of them familiar by now to the reader of this review: First, of course, the idea of "flows". Castells states a conceptual connection between flows, networks, and exclusion; [74] draws a contrast between flows and networks on the one hand, and place-bound labour on the other; [75] and attempts a comprehensive analysis of the notion of a "space of flows" in vol.I, chapter 6. [76] I do not think the analysis is a success. It indulges in formulations like "space is crystallized time", or "[t]he space of flows is the material organization of time-sharing social practices that work through flows", or "[t]he space of flows is not placeless, although its structural logic is". [77]

    The idea of a network is, in The Information Age, significantly extended and extensively discussed. Thus Castells introduces the concept of the network enterprise; [78] speaks, summarily, of the network society; [79] refers to the network of European regions; [80] and coins the phrase we have referred to already, that of the network state. [81] The notion of the network state plays a cental role in the book, in particular in combination, on the one hand, with the idea of the decreasing significance of the nation-state, [82] and, on the other, with the concept of the local state. The latter concept did emerge already, as we saw earlier, in The Informational City; it now comes to the fore, and dominates the analyses on localism. Castells discusses various aspects of the global-local dialectic. There is, for instance, the simultaneous globalization and localization of the media. [83] What he however really focuses on is the function local governments can, or should, fulfil in a globalized world. The "re-localization of government" he writes, "offers the most immediate avenue for the re-legitimation of politics". [84] One of the most conspicuous, and most telling, shifts between The Informational City and The Age of Information is the supplanting of the idea of local community movements by the idea of local government politics. On this shift Castells is, really, quite explicit. He formulates a series of propositions. First, on locality itself, in the section "Territorial Identities: the Local Community", in volume two, taking issue with "the simplistic notion of a systematic co-variation between space and culture". As he puts it:

I do not think it would be inaccurate to say that local environments, per se, do not induce a specific pattern of behavior, or, for that matter, a distinctive identity. Yet, what communalist authors would argue, and what is consistent with my own cross-cultural observation, is that people resist the process of individualization and social atomization, and tend to cluster in community organizations that, over time, generate a feeling of belonging, and ultimately, in many cases, a communal, cultural identity. I introduce the hypothesis that for this to happen, a process of social mobilization is necessary. That is, people must engage in urban movements (not quite revolutionary), through which common interests are discovered, and defended, life is shared somehow, and new meaning may be produced. [85]
Secondly, on how, in his experience, urban movements, which in the 1970s and 1980s had a momentum of their own, [86] in the 1990s have merged with institutionalized politics:
in many cases, urban movements, and their discourses, actors, and organizations, have been integrated in the structure and practice of local government, either directly or indirectly, through a diversified system of citizen participation, and community development. This trend, while liquidating urban movements as sources of alterative social change, has considerably reinforced local government, and introduced the possibility of the local state as a significant instance of reconstruction of political control and social meaning. [87]
And thirdly, he articulates an argument as to how direct citizen participation in the medium of electronic networking is, actually, endangering, rather than fostering, democracy. Castells here confronts utopia [88] with reality [89]. In the real world, as Castells now sees it, there is an irreconcilable contradiction between the logic of networking and the sentiment of communal resistance. [90] And he finds himself compelled to side with the former, since - this is another major shift between The Informational City and The Age of Information - he perceives, in the networked world, an overwhelming trend for grassroots movements to take on fundamentalist traits. The excluded themselves cannot, only the state, in particular the networked local state, can change the lot of the excluded. As Castells writes:
the current death dance between identities, nations, and states, leaves, on the one hand, historically emptied nation-states, drifting on the high seas of global flows of power; on the other hand, fundamental identities, retrenched in their communities or mobilized toward the uncompromising capture of an embattled nation-state; in between, the local state strives to rebuild legitimacy and instrumentality by navigating transnational networks and integrating local civil societies. [91]
Castells entertains no extremist views about the present and future role of the nation-state. "[I]n its simplistic version", he writes, "the globalization thesis ignores the persistence of the nation state and the crucial role of government in influencing the structure and dynamics of the new economy... Evidence shows that government regulation and policies affect the international boundaries and structure of the global economy". [92] Competitiveness in today's world economy, Castells stresses, is greatly dependent on "the political capacity of national and supranational institutions to steer the growth strategy of those countries or areas under their jurisdiction", creating competitive advantages in the global market for firms "considered to serve the interests of the populations in their territories by generating jobs and income". [93] Castells adopts and adapts the concept of "the developmental state":
A state is developmental when it establishes as its principle of legitimacy its ability to promote and sustain development, understanding by development the combination of steady high rates of economic growth and structural change in the economic system, both domestically and in its relationship to the international economy. [94]
As Castells puts it, "states are the expressions of societies, not of economies". [95] The developmental state fulfils "a societal project"; and Castells specifically points to East Asian states, and Japan in particular, where the "historical expression of this societal project ... took the form of the affirmation of national identity, and of national culture, building or rebuilding the nation as a force in the world, in this case by economic competitiveness and socioeconomic improvement." [96] However, the East Asian paradigm notwithstanding, and with the nation-state's ongoing role not in jeopardy in other parts of the world either, Castells still holds that that role is indeed changing. As he writes:
The nation-state, defining the domain, procedures, and object of citizenship, has lost much of its sovereignty, undermined by the dynamics of global flows and trans-organizational networks of wealth, information, and power. Particularly critical for its legitimacy crisis is the state's inability to fulfill its commitments as a welfare state, because of the integration of production and consumption in a globally interdependent system, and the related process of capitalist restructuring. [97]
    Contemporary social theory postulates an essential connection between nation-states on the one hand, and nationalism on the other. The observation that nation-states are, ultimately, diminishing in their significance, stands, then, in glaring contradiction to the perception that nationalism today is, apparently, on the rise. One way to escape this contradiction is to assert that what we are now experiencing are not really nationalisms, but rather ethnic or tribal eruptions, exploiting the very conditions - globalization, postmodernity, post-literacy - under which nationalism does no longer make sense. The other way is to say that, on the subject of nationalism, contemporary social theory is wrong. This is the way Castells takes. As he writes:
The age of globalization is also the age of nationalist resurgence, expressed both in the challenge to established nation-states and in the widespread (re)construction of identity on the basis of nationality, always affirmed against the alien. This historical trend has surprised some observers, after nationalism had been declared deceased from a triple death: the globalization of economy and the internationalization of political institutions; the universalism of a largely shared culture, diffused by electronic media, education, literacy, urbanization, and modernization; and the scholarly assault on the very concept of nations... [98]
The theoretical positions Castells in particular criticizes are those of Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner, and Eric Hobsbawm. [99] His own standpoint he sums up as follows:
four major analytical points must be emphasized when discussing contemporary nationalism with regard to social theories of nationalism. First, contemporary nationalism may or may not be oriented toward the construction of a sovereign nation-state, and thus nations are, historically and analytically, entities independent from the state. Secondly, nations, and nation-states, are not historically limited to the modern nation-state as constituted in Europe in the two hundred years following the French Revolution. ... Thirdly, nationalism is not necessarily an elite phenomenon, and, in fact, nationalism nowadays is more often than not a reaction against the global elites. ... - Fourthly, because contemporary nationalism is more reactive than proactive, it tends to be more cultural than political, and thus more oriented toward the defense of an already institutionalized culture than toward the construction or defense of a state. When new political institutions are created, or recreated, they are defensive trenches of identity, rather than launching platforms of political sovereignty. [100]
Castells holds, then, that nationalism is not exclusively, or characteristically, a modern phenomenon. There are, he believes, both premodern and postmodern nationalisms and nations. However, he has nowhere demonstrated the existence of the former. [101] As to the latter, he stresses that to "reduce nations and nationalisms to the process of construction of the nation-state makes it impossible to explain the simultaneous rise of postmodern nationalism and the decline of the modern state". [102] The idea Castells really focuses on - and it is, I believe, a sound idea - is that of the networked local state. He sees that today's secessionist movements do in fact create local states; and he seems to feel that the way to confer at least some measure of respectability upon those movements is to call them nationalisms. As he writes:
In this fin de siècle, the explosion of nationalisms, some of them deconstructing the multinational states, others constructing pluri-national entities, is not associated with the formation of classical, sovereign, modern states. Rather, nationalism appears to be a major force behind the constitution of quasi-states; that is, political entities of shared sovereignty... Centralized nation-states resisting this trend of nationalist movements in search of quasi-statehood as a new historical reality ... may fall victim to this fatal error of assimilating the nation to the state... [103]
And again:
Two phenomena ... appear to be characteristic of the current historical period: first, the disintegration of pluri-national states that try to remain fully sovereign or to deny the plurality of their national constituents. ... The result ... is the formation of quasi-nation-states. ... Secondly, we observe the development of nations that stop at the threshold of statehood, but force their parent state to adapt, and cede sovereignty. [104]
    Castells is horrified by the rise of fundamentalism, realizes that today's so-called nationalisms do indeed have fundamentalist traits, but still sees a function, and indeed has understanding, for them:
If nationalism is, most often, a reaction against a threatened autonomous identity, then, in a world submitted to cultural homogenization by the ideology of modernization and the power of global media, language, as the direct expression of culture, becomes the trench of cultural resistance, the last bastion of self-control, the refuge of identifiable meaning. Thus, after all, nations do not seem to be 'imagined communities' constructed at the service of power apparatuses. [105]
Castells' analyses on nations and nationalisms constitute a major topic which was absent in his earlier work. These analyses are decidedly non-Marxian. There is a sentence towards the end of The Information Age, almost on the very last page: "In the twentieth century, philosophers have been trying to change the world. In the twenty-first century, it is time for them to interpret it differently." This is, of course, an inversion of Marx's Eleventh Feuerbach Thesis. A chilling inversion, that must have cost Castells many a sleepless night; and, at the end of day, has resulted in making heavy, and often superfluous, demands on his readers.


 My work on this review article was supported by the Research Support Scheme of the OSI/HESP, grant no.: 1067/1997.

[1] Manuel Castells, The Information Age - Economy, Society and Culture, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Vol.I: The Rise of the Network Society (1996), xvii + 556 pp. Vol.II: The Power of Identity (1997), xv + 461 pp. Vol.III: End of Millennium (1998), xiv + 418 pp.

[2] Manuel Castells, "Crisis, Planning, and the Quality of Life: Managing the New Historical Relationships between Space and Society", Society and Space, 1983, vol.1, pp.3-21.

[3] "This book is an account of the economic and social dynamics of the new age of information. Based on research in the USA, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, it aims to formulate a systematic theory of the information society which takes account of the fundamental effects of information technology on the contemporary world. - The global economy is now characterized by the almost instantaneous flow and exchange of information, capital and cultural communication. These flows order and condition both consumption and production. The networks themselves reflect and create distinctive cultures. Both they and the traffic they carry are largely outside national regulations. Our dependence on the new modes of informational flow gives enormous power to those in a position to control them to control us. The main political arena is now the media, and the media are not politically answerable. - Manuel Castells describes the accelerating pace of innovation and application. He examines the processes of globalization that have marginalized and now threaten to make redundant whole countries and peoples excluded from informational networks. He investigates the culture, institutions and organizations of the network enterprise and the concomitant transformation of work and employment. He shows that in the advanced economies production is now concentrated on an educated section of the population aged between 25 and 40: many economies can do without a third or more of their people. He suggests that the effect of this accelerating trend may not be mass unemployment but the extreme flexibilization of work and individualization of labor, and, in consequence, a highly segmented social structure. - The author concludes by examining the effects and implications of technological change on media culture ('the culture of real virtuality'), on urban life, global politics, and the nature of time."

[4] "The final volume in Manuel Castells' trilogy is devoted to processes of global social change induced by interaction between networks and identity. - End of Millennium opens with a study of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which traces its demise back to the incapacity of industrial statism to manage the transition to the Information Age. In this volume, the author demonstrates the rise of inequality, polarization, and social exclusion throughout the world, taking as his focus Africa, urban poverty, and the plight of children. In addition, Manuel Castells documents the formation of a global criminal economy that deeply affects economies and politics in many countries. He analyzes the political and cultural foundations of the emergence of the Asian Pacific as the most dynamic region in the global economy. And he reflects on the contradictions of European unification, proposing the concept of the network state. - In the general conclusion of the trilogy, included in this volume, Castells draws together the threads of his arguments and his findings, presenting a systematic interpretation of our world in this end of millennium."

[5] The Information Age, vol.II, pp.1f. The term "statism" is Castells' euphemism for the Russian-type communist systems.

[6] Ibid., pp.307f.

[7] Ibid., p.362.

[8] The Information Age, vol.III, pp.1f.

[9] Ibid., p.350.

[10] Ibid., pp.355ff.

[11] Ibid., p.360.

[12] For example both by Zdravko Mlinar and by Raimondo Strassoldo in Mlinar, ed., Globalization and Territorial Identities, Aldershot: Avebury, 1992, pp.1 and 35; by John Gerard Ruggie in his "Territoriality and Beyond: Problematizing Modernity in International Relations", International Organization, vol. 47, no.1 (Winter 1993), p.172, compare also p.147, n.42; and by Massey in Doreen Massey - P. Jess, eds., A Place in the World? Culture, Places and Globalization, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, pp.54 and 58.

[13] Manuel Castells, The Informational City: Information Technology, Economic Restructuring, and the Urban-Regional Process, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989.

[14] The Informational City, p.6.

[15] As Castells for instance writes: "Networks, on the basis of new information technologies, provide the organizational basis for the transformation of socially and spatially based relationships of production into flows of information and power that articulate the new flexible system of production and management. ... The libertarian spirit of capitalism finally found itself at home at the last frontier where organizational networks and information flows dissolve locales and supersede societies", ibid., p.32. Compare also: "From specifically located seedbeds of information-technology production emerges a new, pervasive, placeless logic of industrial activity... ... New information technologies organize the space of production along a hierarchy of activities and functions, made up of networks and flows, which takes the social division between intellectual and manual labor to its extreme limit", p.71.

[16] Ibid., p.195.

[17] Ibid., p.349.

[18] Ibid., p.349. As he puts it on p.142: "the operations of many organizations become timeless, because information systems communicate with each other on programmed time patterns, either non-stop in real time or, on the contrary, delayed and recorded. There is a shift, in fact, away from the centrality of the organizational unit to the network of information and decision. In other words, flows, rather than organizations, become the units of work, decision, and output commanding. Is the same trend developing in relation to the spatial dimension of organizations? Are flows substituting for localities in the information economy? Under the impact of information systems, are organizations becoming not only timeless but also placeless?" Or, another, highly significant passage: "the linkages of the intra-organizational network are the defining linkages of the new spatial logic. The space of flows among units of the organization and among different organizational units is the most significant space for the functioning, the performance, and ultimately, the very existence of any organization. The space of organizations in the informational economy is increasingly a space of flows. - However, this does not imply that organizations are placeless. ... each component of the information-processing structure is place-oriented. - ... While organizations are located in places, and their components are place-dependent, the organizational logic is placeless, being fundamentally dependent on the space of flows that characterizes information networks. ... - ... the more organizations depend, ultimately, upon flows and networks, the less they are influenced by the social contexts associated with the places of their location. From this follows a growing independence of the organizational logic from the societal logic...", ibid., pp.169f.

[19] In Manuel Castells, ed., High Technology, Space, and Society, Beverly Hills, Ca.: Sage: 1985.

[20] Loc. cit., p.14. Similarly on p.33: "New technologies allow the emergence of a space of flows, substituting for a space of places, whose meaning is largely determined by their position in a network of exchanges."

[21] James Martin, Telematic Society: A Challenge for Tomorrow, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1981, pp.215-217.

[22] Manuel Castells, The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements, London: Edward Arnold, 1983, p.312. Here Castells adds in a note: "An evolution that was foreseen, many years ago, by Richard Meier, A Communication Theory of Urban Growth (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)." I have been unable to locate a place in Meier's book to which Castells' reference would directly apply; but to his general approach the work is clearly relevant. "Face-to-face interaction", Meier writes, "which is most efficient by far in creating and maintaining groups, requires proximity" (loc. cit., p.42), and at a later stage asks: "Why must almost all policy makers congregate with their assistants and ancillary help in the same vicinity at the same time. It has been observed that they spend their time there manipulating symbols which are directed at others. Why not transmit the symbols over a somewhat greater distance instead of moving people?" (Ibid., p.60) Discussing the implications of new communications technologies for "the location of social and economic activities in the metropolitan complex", this is how Meier formulates the problem: "the demand for point-to-point movements can be expedited by signalling and communications systems superimposed upon existing transport facilities so as to increase their capacity. Sometimes the trip may not be made at all, but be substituted for by some of the new specialized communications such as 'pay television', 'closed-circuit television', or the new transistorized telephone service that is planned for the post-1965 era. Theoretically, substitutes could be devised for most passenger transport in cities, yet forces exist which suggest that people will continue to move in and out in a massive daily stream. What are the forces that attract them to a central place?" (Ibid., p.62) Meier points to "one of the facts of life in a bureaucratic organization", namely: "Region-serving, nation-serving, and world-serving functions seem to be forced by the milieu, the equipment, the services, or the competition to base their operations in and around the civic center. ... Government services, corporation headquarters staff, publishing, advertising, insurance, the performing arts, and myriads of consultant firms have to some extent taken their place in the central cities. The active participants are unwilling to talk about the intricate web of negotiation that proceeds from face-to-face discussions to telephone check-backs to quick conferences with aides and experts, and finally to the handshake or signature on the dotted line. ... The need for direct face-to-face contact offers perhaps the best explanation for the strong attraction retained by the urban center" (ibid., pp.62-64). As Meier explains, there typically occur a series of initial personal meetings building up the basis for further communication: "an atmosphere of trust (within limits) has been generated by such meetings. The telephone is not really a suitable instrument for building up this confidence, and closed-circuit television seems to impose an unnatural interaction between the parties. It would require many more hours of interaction ... to achieve the results obtained from face-to-face contacts. Until some more efficient substitutes have been found for these brief, informal, yet informative, interactions, cities will not be able to dispense with centers. The urban core provides the institutions and services which enable the making and breaking of new contacts at a high rate" (ibid., pp.64f.). Specifically analyzing the nature of telephone conversations, Meier writes: "the senders and receivers alternate in using the channel. If we are to be consistent, a telephone call actually represents a packet of transactions, each of short duration. This conclusion applies equally well to the face-to-face contact. There the boundaries of the transactions become blurred and overlapping because the visual cues may be independent of the verbal message, and the content can be very rich at times. Thus we may attribute the daily migration to the center of the city, with everybody who is anybody on hand at the same time to answer the telephone or engage in a discussion, as an attempt on the part of the superorganizations and the enduring institutions to maximize their transaction rate" (ibid., pp.65f.).

[23] Ibid., p.314.

[24] "Crisis, Planning, and the Quality of Life", Society and Space, vol.1, p.4. On p.5 Castells uses the formulation which I have already quoted from The City and the Grassroots, p.312, here again referring to Meier's 1962 book.

[25] Ibid., p.6. Castells here adds a reference to AnnaLee Saxenian's 1980 dissertation Silicon Chips and Spatial Structure.

[26] "Crisis...", p.6.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., p.7.

[30] Ibid., p.8.

[31] He refers here to a 1981 seminar paper by one F. Sabbah: "A communication model for citizen participation". There is a parallel reference in The City and the Grassroots, p.420, n.121, very tellingly formulated: "We are indebted for information and ideas on this subject to Françoise Sabbah, from the Department of Broadcasting and Communication Arts, San Francisco State University."

[32] Ibid., pp.8f.

[33] Ibid., p.15.

[34] Ibid., p.16. Among the local communities Castells has in mind, those inhabiting the run-down districts of metropolitan areas in the developed world, with populations growing as a result of economic globalization, merit particular attention from the point of view of his argument. That the "world's rootless economy and the local cooperative community are two faces of the same process" (ibid., p.8), is one of the main theses of "Crisis...", and has in the course of the 1980s and 1990s developed into a major theme for Castells. As he here puts it: "the ethnic structure of major capitalist cities has undertaken another major transformation in the last two decades, and the process is expanding. Combined with the classical processes of spatial segregation, racial discrimination, and segmented housing markets, territorially based ethnic communities are becoming more than ever a distinctive trend. The recent development of an 'informal economy' in the metropolitan area, based on cheap labor and illegal conditions of work and living, are expanding the size of the phenomenon and the harshness of the newcomers' existence. The very basis of their usefulness for the new economy is their defenseless situation, which requires the maintenance of a situation of dependency and of disorganization, in relation to the labor market, to the state institutions, and to the mainstream life of the city. If the new urbanites are to survive, they need, more than ever, to reconstruct a social universe, a local turf, a space of freedom, a community", ibid., pp.9f. It is in this context Castells talks about "growing tendencies towards 'political tribalism', the abandonment of democratic life and the withdrawal into the wilderness of squatter houses, free communes, and alternative institutions. A fundamental debate about the state is going on at the very core of our civilization and, surprisingly enough, it tends to use territorial language. The new capitalist technocratic elite calls for a state without boundaries, without territories, without limits: ... for a state governing flows", ibid., pp.10f. Compare also: "the multinationals succeed in keeping the unity of management and the centralized control of capital flows, but they fraction work (and therefore workers), location (and therefore residential communities), markets (and therefore consumers), and states (and therefore political control)", ibid., p.17.

[35] Ibid., pp.16f.

[36] Ibid., p.19.

[37] Ibid., p.19.

[38] The City and the Grassroots, p.307.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid., p.178.

[41] Ibid., p.310.

[42] Ibid., pp.330f. Preceding these sentences there is the important passage: "To maintain and develop cultural identity and autonomous forms of communication, communities and people must deal with the technology of mass media, as well as with the empires of image-producers that monopolise the codes, reinforcing the increasing impoverishment of inter-personal communication. The global village announced by Marshall McLuhan has become, instead, a collection of silent, individual receivers, and the lonely crowd has gone over to high technology. How could communities match this satellite-related network, so well-supported by economic resources and so directly enforced by the state? - ... The more locally-based urban movements aim at local governments, but local communities are, in reality, powerless in the context of world empires and computerized bureaucracies. - So, why urban movements? Why the emphasis on local communities? Have people not understood that they need an international working class movement to oppose the multinational corporations, a strong, democratic parliament, reinforced by participatory democracy, to control the centralized state, and a multiple, interactive communication system to use the new technologies of the media to express (not to suppress) the cultural diversity of society? Why, instead of choosing the right ones, do people insist on aiming at the local targets? - For the simple reason that, according to available information, people appear to have no other choice. The historical actors (social movements, political parties, institutions) that were supposed to provide the answers to the new challenges at the global level, were unable to stand up to them. ... if the mechanisms of the welfare state disappear, people are still in need of its benefits in their homes, neighbourhoods, and cities", ibid., p.329.

[43] "Highly segregated suburbs evolved to accommodate the region's distinct social groups within the same metropolitan area", High Technology, Space, and Society, p.99.

[44] As Nicol writes: "telecommunications - and, for that matter, the telephone - have traditionally been presented as having a decentralizing influence. The basic argument is that a fundamental effect of better communications is to reduce spatial impedance; that is, the frictional forces that geographical space imposes on the transfer of persons, commodities, and information. ... - ... combined technological advances in transportation and telecommunications ought to lessen gradually the centripetal effect of distance on the location decisions of firms and households. Are these developments heralding the era of fungible geographical space (the day when any point in space would, for all practical purposes, be equivalent to any other point)? This is debatable, but, in my view, unlikely", ibid., p.194. Nicol then adds: "despite its impressive advantages, there are no tangible signs that telecommunications may be displacing transportation... - The potential for telecommunications-transportation substitution certainly exists and has been extensively documented... But the actual occurrence of substitution does not necessarily imply a reduction in aggregate transportation use. Claims to the contrary simply ignore the synergic effects of improved communications on the need for face-to-face contacts that, for institutional or cultural reasons, cannot be handled on-line", ibid., p.195.

[45] "Word processing seems to be the overwhelming use for personal computers, which is limited to a minority of professionals", wrote Castells. "Games and tax accounting are the other most frequent uses, but they certainly do not justify full-time possession of a computer. It is in the field of on-line information services that the new electronic home could take off more rapidly, particularly through the telephone. While it is doubtful that people will like electronic mail, electronic banking, or teleshopping, it is certain that there is a drive from large organizations to save time and labor costs by stimulating households to hook up into their systems. This will be followed by a tendency to increase the number of services and information transmitted at distance, with interactive flows through cable or telephone. ... - Nevertheless, the real 'revolution' occurring at home is in entertainment. Homes increasingly are becoming equipped with a self-sufficient world of images, sounds, news, and information exchanges. ... as a tendency, we can say that the new technologies lead toward the delocalization of experience in the sphere of private life, as they do for work-oriented organizations. Homes could become disassociated from neighborhoods and cities and still not be lonely, isolated places", ibid., pp.17f.

[46] Ibid., pp.18f.

[47] His succinct formulation: "what is specific to the informational mode of development is that here knowledge intervenes upon knowledge itself to generate higher productivity", The Informational City, p.10.

[48] Cf. e.g. ibid., p.32.

[49] It is an unfounded "ideological position", Castells for instance writes, "which states that market forces are innately superior in steering development in information technologies. Japan's leadership in the field has been built on strong, systematic state intervention in support of national companies, to raise their technological level in pursuit of the national goal of establishing Japan as a world power on non-military grounds", ibid., p.16. Cf. also ibid., p.25: "what we are witnessing is not the withdrawal of the state from the economic scene, but the emergence of a new form of intervention, whereby new means and new areas are penetrated by the state, while others are deregulated and transferred to the market." The restructuring of capitalism, Castells underlines, "embraces capital movements, labor migration, the process of production itself, the interpenetration of markets, and the use of nation states as elements of support in an international competition that will ultimately determine the economic fate of all nations", ibid., p.26.

[50] Ibid., p.77.

[51] Ibid., p.150. Castells mentions the "importance of trusted person-to-person contacts in the decision-making process at the highest level"; the "existence of a business social milieu with strong cultural connotations"; the "prestige of location in a given place"; the significance of "the fixed assets represented by the real estate owned by companies in the central business districts"; and the "network of ancillary services around major firms and organizations", ibid., pp.150f. Later in the book Castells refers to Saskia Sassen's analyses pertaining to "the global city", and formulates the question:"What explains this striking paradox of the increasing concentration of global flows of information, controlling global flows of capital, in a few congested blocks of one particular city? ... While terminal points of the telecommunication networks, those required by back offices, can be scattered spatially, the nodal points, requiring the most sophisticated equipment together with round-the-clock repair, maintenance, and reprogramming systems, are concentrated in key locations, where a multiplicity of communication systems complement and reinforce one another. The level of computerization of financial markets can only function on the basis of a technologically highly advanced back-up system. - ... high-level decision-making in an industry entirely dependent upon proper information handling requires access to micro-flows of information, that is to occasional exchanges and to non-public information... ... around the concentration of high-level functions develops a vast network of suppliers, intermediaries, and implementers...", ibid., pp.343f.

[52] "Central cities in the largest metropolitan areas host the majority of the growth in highly paid jobs, while they come to be inhabited mainly by an ethnic-minority population which is increasingly inadequate to fill these jobs. The dual city, manifested in the spatial coexistence of a large sector of professional and managerial middle-class with a growing urban underclass, epitomizes the contradictory development of the new informational economy, and the conflictual appropriation of the inner city by social groups who share the same space while being worlds apart in terms of lifestyle and structural position in society", ibid., p.204. To this Castells later adds: "The differential reassignment of labor in the process of simultaneous growth and decline results in a sharply stratified, segmented social structure that differentiates between upgraded labor, downgraded labor, and excluded people. Dualism refers here both to the contradictory dynamics of growth and decline, and to the polarizing and exclusionary effects of these new dynamics", ibid., p.225.

[53] "Although the concept of milieu does not necessarily include a spatial dimension", elucidates Castells, "I will argue that, in the case of information-technology industries, spatial proximity is a necessary material condition for the existence of such milieux, because of the nature of interaction in the innovation process", ibid., p.82. He then adds: "the spatial dimension becomes an important material condition in linking the source of information to other key components of the production process, namely innovative labor and high-risk capital", ibid., p.83. Earlier Castells explained: "The more an industry depends upon information-trained, information-oriented labor, the more this labor itself depends for its development on its continuing relationship with a creative milieu able to generate new ideas and new techniques through the interaction of elements spatially clustered in its inner network. This is why the image of the wired software writer, working in his or her mountain refuge, connected to Silicon Valley over the phone line, is fundamentally a bright advertising spot from futurologists. Software production is heavily dependent on the existence of a consolidated milieu of electronics research and manufacturing, where exchange of ideas and of people is far more important than the beauty of the environment. ... The very basis of computer software production location is an industrial research milieu, generated by an advanced electronics center, often connected to major universities, in the vicinity of a major metropolitan area containing corporate headquarters, around which business services develop", ibid., p.67.

[54] Ibid., p.353.

[55] Ibid., p.350.

[56] Ibid., p.348.

[57] Ibid., pp.350f. To this Castells adds: "Localities - cities and regions - must also be able to find their specific role in the new informational economy. ... localities can become indispensable elements in the new economic geography because of the specific nature of the informational economy. ... - Local governments must develop a central role in organizing the social control of places over the functional logic of the space of flows. It is only through the reinforcement of this role that localities will be able to put pressure on economic and political organizations to restore the meaning of the local society in the new functional logic. This statement runs counter to the widespread opinion that the role for local governments will diminish in an internationalized economy and within the functional space of flows. I believe that it is precisely because we live in such a world that local governments can and must play a more decisive role as representatives of civil societies. National governments are frequently as powerless as local to handle unidentifiable flows. ... Because local governments defend specific interests, linked to a local society, they can identify such interests and respond flexibly to the requirements of the flows of power, so identifying the best bargaining position in each case. ... the formation of the world economy in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries led to the emergence of city-states as flexible political institutions able to engage in worldwide strategies of negotiation... The current process of total internationalization of the economy may also lead to the renaissance of the local state, as an alternative to the functionally powerless and institutionally bureaucratized nation-states", ibid., pp.351f.

[58] Ibid., pp.352f.

[59] Ibid., p.353.

[60] Martin Carnoy - Manuel Castells - Stephen S. Cohen - Fernando Henrique Cardoso, The New Global Economy in the Information Age: Reflections on Our Changing World, University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993.

[61] "We are convinced", the authors write, "that multinational enterprises are a product of their national origins and still depend on their home bases for economic strength. We are also convinced that there is a wide range of nation-state activity enhancing local economic development that goes beyond developing human resources for international distribution. ... Further, we view politics as key to the action that nation-states take to enhance their economies. Politics can and does go beyond creating an environment for capital accumulation." To which they, however, add: "More recently, national populations have been rejecting 'nation'-states, moving both outward and inward. If nation-states cannot be converted into more flexible, efficient forms, some social movements may push for transferals of power to other states or transnational entities", The New Global Economy..., pp. 3f.

[62] Ibid., p.37.

[63] Ibid., p.38.

[64] Ibid. Castells here adds: "The logic of exclusion embedded in the current dominant system is met with reciprocal appeals for exclusion of the dominants by the excluded. The shift from exploitation to irrelevance in some areas of the world, in relation to the dominant dynamics of the system, leads to the breakdown of any relationship and, therefore, to the alienation of entire groups, cultures, or countries from the dominant structure of the new world order."

[65] Ibid., p.39.

[66] Ibid., pp.40f.

[67] As Castells writes: "In January 1992, the Prime Minister's Office of the first democratic government of post-Soviet Russia asked me to organize an international advisory committee of leading social scientists to help the Russian Government to manage social problems during the transition period. I accepted the task, and a Committee comprising Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Martin Carnoy, Stephen S. Cohen, Alain Touraine, and me went to work on the matter. During 1992 we/I had several meetings with Russian leaders in Moscow (including a closed-door, two full days meeting of the whole committee with Gaidar, Burbulis, Shokhin, and their staff in March 1992). We wrote a report, and several working notes, all confidential." The activities of the committee, Castells adds, "faded away by the end of 1992 after Gaidar's resignation" (The Information Age, vol.I, p.144, n.184).

[68] Ibid., p.144.

[69] "A few months later", Castells writes, "Gaidar and Burbulis ... were evicted from the government. A year later, tanks were necessary to promulgate a new constitution. Two years later, Zhirinovsky and the communists scored major wins in parliamentary elections. Three years later, in 1995, the communists won the parliamentary elections", ibid., pp.144f.

[70] Cf. ibid., p.137, n.167.

[71] Ibid., p.139.

[72] The Information Age, vol.III, p.2.

[73] The Information Age, vol.I, p.32. Castells here draws "an analytical distinction" - in my opinion a superfluous one - "between the notions of 'information society' and 'informational society', with similar implications for information/informational economy. The term information society emphasizes the role of information in society. But I argue", Castells writes, "that information, in its broadest sense, e.g. as communication of knowledge, has been critical in all societies, including medieval Europe which was culturally structured, and to some extent unified, around scholasticism, that is, by and large an intellectual framework... In contrast, the term informational indicates the attribute of a specific form of social organization in which information generation, processing, and transmission become the fundamental sources of productivity and power, because of new technological conditions emerging in this historical period", ibid., p.21.

[74] E.g. on pp.61f. of vol.I. Here he first cites Kevin Kelly (Out of Control, 1995): "'The only organization capable of nonprejudiced growth, or unguided learning is a network. All other topologies limit what can happen. A network swarm is all edges and therefore open ended any way you come at it. Indeed, the network is the least structured organization that can be said to have any structure at all . . . In fact a plurality of truly divergent components can only remain coherent in a network. No other arrangement - chain, pyramid, tree, circle, hub - can contain true diversity working as a whole.'" Castells then adds: "What is distinctive to the configuration of the new technological paradigm is its ability to reconfigure, a decisive feature in a society characterized by constant change and organizational fluidity. ... flexibility could be a liberating force, but also a repressive tendency if the rewriters of rules are always the powers that be." Finally he quotes G.J. Mulgan (Communication and Control, 1991): "'Networks are created not just to communicate, but also to gain position, to outcommunicate.'" Compare also vol.I, p.469: "Networks constitute the new social morphology of our societies, and the diffusion of networking logic substantially modifies the operation and outcomes in processes of production, experience, power, and culture. ... the power of flows takes precedence over the flows of power."

[75] E.g. on pp.232 and 235 of vol.I: "While capital flows freely in the electronic circuits of global financial networks, labor is still highly constrained, and will be for the foreseeable future, by institutions, culture, borders, police, and xenophobia. ... most of the labor force does not circulate in the network, but becomes dependent on the function, evolution and behavior of other segments in the network. It results in a process of hierarchical, segmented interdependence of the labor force, under the impulse of relentless movements by firms in the circuits of their global network."

[76] "The Social Theory of Space and the Theory of the Space of Flows" and "Space of Flows and Space of Places" are the titles of the two last sections of chapter 6, "The Space of Flows".

[77] The Information Age, vol.I, pp.411ff.

[78] As he puts it: "The main shift can be characterized as the shift from vertical bureaucracies to the horizontal corporation. ... To be able to internalize the benefits of network flexibility the corporation had to become a network itself and dynamize each element of its internal structure: this is in essence the meaning of the 'horizontal corporation' model, often extended in the decentralization of its units and in the growing autonomy given to each of these units... ... the actual operating unit becomes the business project, enacted by a network, rather than individual companies or formal groupings of companies. ... The 'horizontal corporation' is a dynamic and strategically planned network of self-programmed, self-directed units based on decentralization, participation, and coordination", ibid., pp.164ff. To which Castells then adds: "cooperation and networking offer the only possibilities to share costs, and risks, as well as to keep up with constantly renewed information. Yet networks also act as gatekeepers. Inside the networks, new possibilities are relentlessly created. Outside the networks, survival is increasingly difficult. Under the conditions of fast technological change, networks, not firms, have become the actual operating units", ibid., p.171. Another important formulation: "For the first time in history, the basic unit of economic organization is not a subject, be it individual (such as the entrepreneur, or the entrepreneurial family) or collective (such as the capitalist class, the corporation, the state). ... the unit is the network, made up of a variety of subjects and organizations, relentlessly modified as networks adapt to supportive environments and market structures", ibid., p.198.

[79] E.g. on p.350 of vol.III: "the new social structure of the Information Age, which I call the network society because it is made up of networks of production, power, and experience... ... Not all dimensions and institutions of society follow the logic of the network society, in the same way that industrial societies included for a long time many preindustrial forms of human existence. But all societies in the Information Age are indeed penetrated, with different intensity, by the pervasive logic of the network society, whose dynamic expansion gradually absorbs and subdues pre-existing social forms."

[80] Cf. e.g. vol.I, p.381:"the growing internationalization of economic activities throughout Europe has made regions more dependent on these activities. Accordingly, regions, under the impulse of their governments and business elites, have restructured themselves to compete in the global economy, and they have established networks of cooperation between regional institutions and between region-based companies. Thus, regions and localities do not disappear, but become integrated in international networks that link up their most dynamic sectors."

[81] Cf. e.g. vol.I, p.381:"the growing internationalization of economic activities throughout Europe has made regions more dependent on these activities. Accordingly, regions, under the impulse of their governments and business elites, have restructured themselves to compete in the global economy, and they have established networks of cooperation between regional institutions and between region-based companies. Thus, regions and localities do not disappear, but become integrated in international networks that link up their most dynamic sectors."

[82] As Castells puts it: "the growing role played by international institutions and supranational consortia in world policies ... cannot be equated to the demise of the nation-state. But the price paid by nation-states for their precarious survival as segments of states' networks, is that of their decreasing relevance, thus undermining their legitimacy, and ultimately furthering their powerlessness", The Information Age, vol.II, p.269. An important formulation, later in the volume: "what seems to be emerging now ... is the de-centering of the nation-state within the realm of shared sovereignty that characterizes the current world's political scene. ... nation-states ... will increasingly be ... nodes of a broader network of power. .. The theory of power ... supersedes the theory of the state", ibid., pp.304 and 306.

[83] See e.g. vol.II, pp.257: "In a parallel movement to globalization of the media, there also has been, in many countries, thanks to new communication technologies, ... an extraordinary growth of local media, particularly for radio and cable television. Most of these local media, which often share programming, have established a strong connection to specific, popular audiences, bypassing the standardized views of mass media. So doing, they escape the traditional channels of control (be it direct or indirect) the nation-states had set up vis à vis television networks and major newspapers. The growing political autonomy of local and regional media, using flexible communication technologies, is as important a trend as the globalization of media in shaping public attitudes." To which Castells adds: "Computer-mediated communication is also escaping the control of the nation-state, ushering in a new era of extra-territorial communication. Most governments seem to be terrified at the prospect", ibid., p.258.

[84] Ibid., p.272.

[85] Ibid., p.60.

[86] "[U]rban movements", Castells writes, " were becoming critical sources of resistance to the one-sided logic of capitalism, statism, and informationalism. This was, essentially, because the failure of proactive movements and politics (for example, the labor movement, political parties) to counter economic exploitation, cultural domination, and political oppression had left people with no other choice than either to surrender or to react on the basis of the most immediate source of self-recognition and autonomous organization: their locality. Thus, so emerged the paradox of increasingly local politics in a world structured by increasingly global processes", ibid., p.61.

[87] Ibid., p.62.

[88] "In many societies around the world", he writes, "local democracy ... appears to be flourishing, at least in terms relative to national political democracy. This is particularly true when regional and local governments cooperate with each other, and when they extend their reach to neighborhood decentralization, and citizen participation. When electronic means (computer-mediated communication, or local radio and television stations) are added to expand participation and consultation by citizens ... , new technologies contribute to enhanced participation in local government. Experiences of local self-management ... show the possibility of reconstructing links of political representation to share (if not to control) the challenges of economic globalization and political unpredictability. There are obvious limits to this localism since it accentuates the fragmentation of the nation-state. But, strictly in terms of observation, the most powerful trends legitimizing democracy in the mid-1990s are taking place, worldwide, at the local level", ibid., p.350.

[89] As he puts it: "the opportunity offered by electronic communication to enhance political participation and horizontal communication among citizens. ... citizens could form, and are forming, their own political and ideological constellations, circumventing established political structures, thus creating a flexible, adaptable political field. However, serious criticism may be addressed, and has indeed been addressed to the prospects of electronic democracy. On the one hand, should this form of democratic politics emerge as an important instrument of debate, it would certainly institutionalize a form of 'Athenian democracy', both nationally and internationally. That is, while a relatively small, educated, and affluent elite in a few countries and cities would have access to an extraordinary tool of information and political participation, actually enhancing citizenship, the uneducated, switched off masses of the world, and of the country, would remain excluded from the new democratic core, as were slaves and barbarians at the onset of democracy in classical Greece", ibid., pp.350f.

[90] A contradiction which does indeed leave its marks on Castells' own text, too. For instance he writes: "The communes of resistance defend their space, their places, against the placeless logic of the space of flows characterizing social domination in the Information Age. They claim their historic memory, and/or affirm the permanence of their values, against the dissolution of history in timeless time, and the celebration of the ephemeral in the culture of real virtuality. They use information technology for people's horizontal communication, and communal prayer, while rejecting the new idolatry of technology, and preserving transcendent values against the deconstructing logic of self-regulating computer networks", ibid., 358.o.

[91] Ibid., p.276. Earlier Castells wrote: "There seems to be a logic of excluding the excluders, of redefining the criteria for value and meaning in a world where there is shrinking room for the computer illiterate, for consumptionless groups, and for under-communicated territories", The Information Age, vol.I, p.25. And, taking stock towards the end of the book: "a new world, the Fourth World, has emerged, made up of multiple black holes of social exclusion throughout the planet. ... it is populated by millions of homeless, incarcerated, prostituted, criminalized, brutalized, stigmatized, sick, and illiterate persons. They are the majority in some areas, the minority in others... But, everywhere, they are growing in number, and increasing in visibility, as the selective triage of informational capitalism, and the political breakdown of the welfare state, intensify social exclusion", vol.III, pp.164f.

[92] The Information Age, vol.I, pp.97f. Indeed, as he puts it, "it is precisely because of the interdependence and openness of international economy that states must become engaged in fostering development strategies on behalf of their economic constituencies", ibid., p.90.

[93] Ibid., p.105.

[94] Ibid., p.182.

[95] Ibid., p.102.

[96] Ibid., p.182. East Asian countries are Castells' favourite examples when it comes to demonstrating that economies can flourish under strict state regulations. The section "Culture, organizations, and institutions: Asian business networks and the developmental state", in volume one, offers fascinating empirical details, and interesting generalizations. The latter must of course have been more convincing in 1996 than at the time this review is being written, in the autumn of 1998, when East Asia is in a deep recession.

[97] The Information Age, vol.II, p.342.

[98] Ibid., p.27.

[99] As Castells puts it, Anderson, for whom nations are "imagined communities", stands for "the mild version of anti-nationalist theory". To Gellner he attributes the "forceful formulation" according to which nations are "'arbitrary historical inventions'" (ibid.). This, of course, is a gross misrepresentation of Gellner's views. Gellner holds exactly the opposite position. As he wrote: "Dead languages can be revived, traditions invented, quite fictitious pristine purities restored. But this culturally creative, fanciful, positively inventive aspect of nationalist ardour ought not to allow anyone to conclude, erroneously, that nationalism is a contingent, artificial, ideological invention, which might not have happened, if only those damned busy-body interfering European thinkers, not content to leave well alone, had not concocted it and fatefully injected it into the bloodstream of otherwise viable political communities. The cultural shreds and patches used by nationalism are often arbitrary historical inventions. Any old shred and patch would have served as well. But in no way does it follow that the principle of nationalism itself ... is itself in the least contingent and accidental", Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983, p.56. Later Gellner adds: "The conditions in which nationalism becomes the natural form of political loyalty can be summed in two propositions: (1) every man is a clerk. (Universal literacy recognised as a valid norm.) (2) Clerks are not horizontally mobile, they cannot normally move from one language-area to another; jobs are generally specific to clerks who are produced by some one particular educational machine, using some one particular medium of expression. ... Men do not in general become nationalists from sentiment or sentimentality... they become nationalists through genuine, objective, practical necessity", ibid., p.160. Again, Castells distorts the positions in question when he writes that according to Gellner and Hobsbawm "nationalist movements, as rationalizers of interests of a certain elite, invent a national identity that, if successful, is enshrined by the nation-state, and then diffused by propaganda among its subjects, to the point that 'nationals' will then become ready to die for their nation" (The Information Age, vol.II, p.28).

[100] Ibid., pp.30f.

[101] Volume two has a section on Catalonia. Castells here recalls that Catalunya as a political entity has a history of thousand years; but he certainly does not show, as he obviously believes himself to do, that this political entity has been, in premodern times, a nation.

[102] Ibid., p.31.

[103] Ibid., p.32. However, everything has its price. In order to be able to hold the position outlined, Castells has to explain what, then, nations actually are. The explanation is an anticlimax. "I shall define nations, in line with the arguments and elaborations presented above", he writes, "as cultural communes constructed in people's minds and collective memory by the sharing of history and political projects. How much history must be shared for a collectivity to become a nation varies with contexts and periods, as are also variable the ingredients that predispose the formation of such communes", ibid., p.51.

[104] Ibid., pp.51f.

[105] Ibid., p.52.