The Power of Identity (Information Age/Manuel Castells, Vol 2) (v. 2)

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9781557868732: The Power of Identity (Information Age/Manuel Castells, Vol 2) (v. 2)

This is an account of the two great and conflicting trends now shaping the world: globalization and identity. The information technology revolution and the restructuring of capitalism have induced the network society, and ushered in the globalization of strategic economic activities, flexibility and instability of work, and a culture of real virtuality. But, alongside the transformation of capitalism and the demise of statism, there has been a powerful surge of expressions of collective identity. These challenge globalization on behalf of cultural singularity and control over life and environment. The book describes the origins, purpose and effect of proactive movements, such as feminism and environmentalism, which aim to transform human relationships at their most fundamental level; and of reactive movements that build trenches of resistance on behalf of God, nation, ethnicity, family or locality. The fundamental categories of existence, the author shows, are threatened by the combined, contradictory assault of techno-economic forces and transformative social movements, each using the new power of the media to promote their ambitions. Caught between these opposing trends, he argues, the nation-state is called into question, drawing into its crisis the very notion of political democracy. The author moves thematically between the United States, Western Europe, Russia, Mexico, Bolivia, the Islamic World, China and Japan, seeking to understand a variety of social processes that are, he contends, closely inter-related in function and meaning.

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Review:

In the second volume of his Information Age trilogy, Manuel Castells examines the threat posed to the nation-state by the rise of collective "resistance identities," which may over time develop into "project identities" with specific socially transformative goals in mind. His scope is broad, encompassing everything from Mexico's Zapatista movement to the rise of militias in the United States to broader antipatriarchal projects launched by feminists, gay communities, and environmental activists. Castell's dry academic style may be distancing to some readers; Benjamin R. Barber's Jihad vs. McWorld provides a similar argument (with equal intellectual rigor) in slightly more accessible prose.

About the Author:

Manuel Castells, born in Spain in 1942, is Professor of Planning and of Sociology, and Chair of the Center for Western European Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was appointed in 1979. He also taught sociology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and was director of the Institute of Sociology of New Technologies at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. He has been visiting professor at the Universities of Chile, Montreal, Campinas-Sao Paulo, Caracas, Mexico, Geneva, Copenhagen, Wisconsin-Madison, Boston, Southern California, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Amsterdam, Moscow, and Hitotsubashi. He is a member of Academia Europaea (Sociology). In 1995/96 he was appointed to the European Commission's High level.

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