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The contours of the network society

Manuel Castells (University of California at Berkeley, 228 Wurster Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 1 April 2000



This article identifies contemporary society as a network society made possible by new information and communication technologies which are both a necessary condition for, and inextractable dimension of that society, and pose complex results and challenges. The prevalence of networks means that we have entered a new technological paradigm and new form of organizational structure having shifted from vertical to more flexible and adaptable networking forms of activity in economy, society, politics and culture. Historical problems of networks are overcome by the new network technologies. In the network society, the integration of the core of global financial activities works through causal interactions and the ability to assess and change the value of any security in the global market. This is only made possible via telecommunications and powerful information systems which assess risks and provide alternatives. Characteristics and consequences of the new economy are outlined as are patterns of governmental power. Current processes of globalization have diminished the capacity of the nation state to control the processes of cultural, economic, political and social dimensions and the network state is emerging in a world of different kinds of networks of which governmental networks is one. The main conclusion is that the network society of the contemporary, or post‐industrial, age is centrally organized around new information communication technologies which have enabled, rather than technologically determined, extraordinary changes in the social structure.



Castells, M. (2000), "The contours of the network society", Foresight, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 151-157.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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