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Communication Power [Paperback]

by Manuel Castells
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 30, 2011 0199595690 978-0199595693 2
We live in the midst of a revolution in communication technologies that affects the way in which people feel, think, and behave. The media have become the space where power strategies are played out. In the current technological context mass communication goes beyond traditional media and includes the Internet and mobile communication.

In this wide-ranging and powerful book, Manuel Castells analyses the transformation of the global media industry by this revolution in communication technologies. He argues that a new communication system, mass self-communication, has emerged, and power relationships have been profoundly modified by the emergence of this new communication environment. Created in the commons of the Internet this communication can be locally based, but globally connected. It is built through messaging, social networks sites, and blogging, and is now being used by the millions around the world who have access to the Internet.

Drawing on a wide range of social and psychological theories, Castells presents original research on political processes and social movements. He applies this analysis to numerous recent events--the misinformation of the American public on the Iraq War, the global environmental movement to prevent climate change, the control of information in China and Russia, Barak Obama's internet-based presidential campaigns, and (in this new edition) responses to recent political and economic crises such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement. On the basis of these case studies he proposes a new theory of power in the information age based on the management of communication networks

Justly celebrated for his analysis of the network society, Castells here builds on that work, offering a well grounded and immensely challenging picture of communication and power in the 21st century. This is a book for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics and character of the modern world.

Editorial Reviews


"Castells has done it again, a masterpiece of global perspective and enviable erudition. Moving beyond his trilogy on the information age, Castells focuses on how cultural, economic and particularly political power relationships are constituted and sustained through systematic communication flows. A new line of analysis draws on neuroscience and cognitive psychology to track the role of emotion in political communication. Case studies include global media deregulation, the politics of scandal, framing the war in Iraq, ecological social movements, the Obama presidential candidacy and a fascinating comparison of media control dynamics in Russia and China." --Advance praise from W. Russell Neuman, Evans Professor of Media Technology, University of Michigan

"How could Manuel Castells have predicted that now is the time of the perfect storm? I do not know. But I do know that his new book coincides with the largest downturn in global economies since the 1930s, with the most important American election since the 1960s, with a most radical transformation of world politics in many generations, and with the most profound reevaluation of the lives of modern citizens, from what they value to how they communicate. We have become used to Castells' careful scholarship and penetrating analyses but in this new book he cuts deeper into the heart of the matter. Sometimes he provides illuminating answers and where he cannot, he frames the questions that must be answered. This is a powerful and much needed book for a world in crisis." --Advance praise from Antonio Damasio, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Director, Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California

"Manuel Castells unites the mind of a social scientist with the soul of an artist. His trilogy took us to the edge of the millennium. This book takes us beyond to the critical crossroads of the 21st century, where technology, communication, and power converge." --Advance praise from Rosalind Williams, Dibner Professor and Director, Program on Science, Technology and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"In this timely book, Professor Castells turns his attention from the impact of the internet on the economy to its impact on communications and politics. I can warmly recommend it to all communications practitioners. But his clear analysis and vivid case studies make this book of interest to anyone who wants to understand the nature of power in today's democracy and the meaning of the campaign that swept Barack Obama into the White House." --Advance praise from Margot Wallstrom, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Communication Policy

About the Author

Manuel Castells, University Professor and Wallis Annenberg Chair of Communication Technology and Society at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Manuel Castells is University Professor and the Wallis Annenberg Chair of Communication Technology and Society at the University of Southern California. He is also Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Planning, University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for 24 years. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, of the Academia Europaea, of the Spanish Royal Academy of Economics, and of the British Academy. His main books include the trilogy The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture (Blackwell, 1996-2003), Communication Power (OUP, 2009), and Networks of Outrage and Hope (Polity, 2012). He was a founding member of the board of the European Research Council and is a member of the Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (April 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199595690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199595693
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are Communication Networks Mainly Liberating? September 18, 2009
This book makes the same arguments as the 12 year older book The Power of Identity. In two respects Castells has made considerable progress. The former book was talking about human selves and identities. Now the author has really discovered psychology. Meaning has become a core concept in the analysis of this structural thinker. He borrows from the currently popular work of neuropsychologists such as Antonio Damasio that have made the turn from cognition and reasoned action to biology and emotions. This enables him to make splendid analyses of media politics and political campaigns, mainly in the United States as a combination of rationality and emotions. For example, he describes the systematic campaign of misinformation in the mass media of the Bush administration dragging the American population into the Iraq war and tries to explain why this was successful.
The second advance is more attention to the struggle over networks: they are programmed and reprogrammed. In a 1999 review of the trilogy The Information Age I accused Castells of completely neglecting the design dimension and the social struggle over networks . At that time, his view was that with networks we have created a machine that is dynamic, full of opportunities but controlled be no one. Now he clearly argues that the `logic' of networks could be transformed (p. 36). He tries to show this in a number of case studies in which communication networks are reprogrammed.
The first study is about the environmental movement and the `new culture of nature' (environmental consciousness). `It was the networking between the scientific community, environmental activists and celebrities that brought the issue to the media, and communicated it to the public at large via multimedia networks' (p. 321).
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Everything bar the kitchen sink March 10, 2010
Does Castells ever write books of less than 600 pages? He should try. This book is far too too long for the points it makes - power, money media manipulation mixed with new technologies. C.Wright Mills, Chomsky, Habermas and the rest of recent western thought stampede onto the page with little evidence of any theoretical bridle. It is not quite a mess but not quite not one either. A lot of the detail is good and interesting but the overview never comes together. I found myself pushing quickly through blocks of twenty and thirty pages at a time just to get on with it. A much shorter book with a more specific agenda would have been better. I still am undecided whether this worked contributed anything to the debate on media and power or merely rehashed established ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Castells is overrated January 21, 2013
By Lara
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Castells is a big name in communications today, but I was underwhelmed by his book. It seems more suitable for the general public than the scholarly world. I thought it was rather thin conceptually - provocative, but thin. It's worth having a look at to understand what the hype about Castells it, but for that you could also get it from your local library.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Communications Studies December 29, 2012
By Al
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Via Sociology we get a return to the classical political economy tradition of Communications Studies (Schiller, Smythe, others) - a valuable and important corrective after two decades of cultural studies' audience audience studies. See also Joel Spring's latest work on the political economy of ownership of educational media. Newcorp and Thomson Reuters lurk.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Constipated Mind June 9, 2012
By Hal
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been a big fan of Manuel Castells, and I was eager to get his latest communication power (note the lower-case title, which he evidently takes (incorrectly) to be the way things are done now).

The subjects he tackles in this book are subjects I am interested in also - such as power. But, unfortunately, he is not helping me. Instead of pre-digesting his material, as a thinker should, and producing something useful, he seems to be suffering from diarrhea.

He thinks we are now a networked society - when this is just the usual hype. I speak as an expert here - if anyone is networked, it is me. But this networking for most is superficial. Only the business world is now networked. One could argue that this is all that matters - but this is only partly right.

He ignores a basic fact - the human world has collapsed under its own weight. And his own writing is proof of that.

One part of the book I can recommend: the Opening, where he talks directly, person to person. His final sentence here:

<And this is my way, my only real way to challenge the powers that be by unveiling their presence in the working of our minds.>

An excellent project! But not a new one. Every great thinker (and some not so great) has tried to do this.

Perhaps someone else will come along and condense Castells' writing for us. But I doubt it.
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