In an earlier corner of my summer’s research was a stack of books whose topics, like my IML 500 class, digital media and tools, represented the convergence of my interests: community planning, digital media, and media arts. I have much to learn about the latter two topics, hence this class, this cascade of annotated bibliographies, and their informing stack of books. At the top of the stack was Manuel Castells’ The Informational City: Information Technology, Economic Restructuring, and the Urban Regional Process. Though he published it in 1989, it remains strikingly relevant today, and especially so in terms of the course. In it, Castells examines the technological revolution’s transformation of the relationships between and among production, society, and space. He proposes the term “informationalism” in lieu of “post-industrialism,” calling the latter a “negative” term, one inadequate to describe the genuine impetus for our economy. That driving force is information. Economic growth via the manufacture of product propelled the industrial age. Informationalism, by contrast, focuses on the accumulation of technological developments and innovative processes. As UCLA’s ‘s 2009 Mellon Seminar in Digital Humanities asserts in “The Digital Humanities Manifesto, 2.0,” “Process is the new god; not product.”
Tag Archives: urban planning & policy
Castells, M. (1983). _The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements_. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press.
Arguing upfront that sociologists and urban studies experts know much about what constitutes city form and the city’s problems, but nothing about the cause of social change, Castells sets about elaborating “a provisional, theoretical framework” (xvi) of how social change happens. Taking a express departure from Marxism’s preoccupation with production, he reasserts the city is a social social product and a site for collective consumption. Moreover, its innovations generally arise from grassroots efforts, the most successful among them, “urban social movements.”
Manuel Castells is University Professor and the Wallis Annenberg Chair in Community Technology and Society at USC. He is also Research Professor at the Open University of Catalonia; Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley. He was born in Spain in 1942 and grew up in Valencia and Barcelona. He studied law and economics at the Universities of Barcelona and Paris. He received a doctorate in sociology and a doctorate in human sciences from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He moved to the United States in 1979.
In what is considered to be the first fully articulated neo-Marxist critique of the socio-political, economic, and spatial organization of cities, Castells begins by arguing that ideological perspectives shift proper focus away and displace “the axis of contradictions” (p. 430). For a full appraisal of the various urban phenomena, Castells uses historical materialism not as a perspective, but as a schema. He begins by establishing a historical account, distinguishing developed world cities’ formations from those post-colonial, dependent economies and socialist ones, as well as case studies of North American cities and Paris to distinguish between their unique formations.