Manuel Castells's Technoculture Epoch in The Information Age

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Harding, Robert. "Manuel Castells's Technoculture Epoch in The Information Age.[1] Science Fiction Studies #98 = 33.1 (March 2006): 18-29.

Harding's abstract reads as follows.

This article reviews Manuel Castells's contribution to the theory of high-tech globalization in his sociological trilogy The Information Age.. I examine Castells's claim that so-called Network Society is a discrete period in history, an epoch that incorporated the liberal individualism of the 1960s with a structural reorganization of labor. I then investigate informational networks in terms of their capacity to transform our social being, assessing the political implications of Castells's thesis through reference to a range of social theorists. Specifically, I consider how Castells's evaluation of the political and cultural resistance to global homogenization leads him to advocate systems of advanced self-management, radical self-fashioning, and individual adaptability to accelerating technoscientific change. I conclude with an analysis of the science-fictional nature of Castells's futurology and its potential utility as a theoretical framework for sf critics. (p. 29)

Harding finds that "Like Max Weber, Castells seeks to define the spirit of the age. Where Weber studied the animating force of the industrial age in the Protestant work ethic,[2] Castles sees the ethos of the information age in the network (p. 18). Crucial to the works of The Information Age "is Castello's distinction between the classic Marxist mode of production and the informational paradigm he refers to as the mode of development." In the current "socio-technical paradigm of information technology," people face a "new way of generating wealth: the action of 'knowledge upon knowledge'" as "the main source of productivity." In such a world, "'a technological revolution, centered around information technologies' is radically 'reshaping, at an accelerated pace, the material basis of society' [...]." Castells may come close to "a kind of technological determinism" that could go with technocracy, but Harding stresses Castells on "the importance of specifically cultural factors in fostering the growth of the network society, especially the student rebellions of the 1960s and 1970s" (Harding 20). Moving into the 1970s and beyond, "[...] the architects of this new era" had not "fought behind the barricades in the Sixties, they contemplated the new technology as a liberator from corporate hierarchy and an embodiment of free expression." As the 20th c., drew to a close, "[...] resistant youth began to define itself not in tandem with but against the techno-system"; see Copeland's Generation X (1991) and note "'Migration towards lower-tech, lower information environments containing a lessened emphasis on consumerism'" (Harding 21).

SF works at least referenced: Pattern Recognition, The Diamond Age, OR, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, Douglas Copeland's Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Future,[3] Greg Bear's Slant; see for automation and consider for background to Vonnegut's Player Piano.

RDE, finishing, 6Nov22