A Political Economy of New Times?: Critical Reflections on the Network Society and the Ethos of Informational Capitalism

European Journal of Social Theory 3 (1):51-65 (2000)
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Abstract

Situating Manuel Castells's three-volume work, The Information Age, within a broad tradition of classical social theory that has sought to come to terms with the emergence of new forms of social, economic and cultural life, critical consideration is given to a series of concerns, including questions of analytic perspective and in particular the relevance of the work of Marx; the concept of the network society; the movement from production to consumption as the primary medium through which individuals are engaged within contemporary society; and issues of identity and community. In contrast to Castells's identification of an ethical foundation or spirit of informationalism, it is argued that an aesthetics of consumption is central to modern society in its informational capitalist phase and that as society has become more exposed to the consequences of informationalism and the associated globalization of capital, the prospect of living in an ethically responsible manner has diminished significantly.

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