Sociologist Prof Manuel Castells

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Alternative Economic Cultures
Duration: 30 minutes – First broadcast Monday 15 October 2012

Paul Mason interviews renowned sociologist Prof Manuel Castells about the rise of alternative economic cultures since the financial crisis. Recorded in front of an audience at the London School of Economics on Monday 8th October.

First person to notice the rise of the network society

NOTES: a new kind of capitalism

public sector is in crisis – bring on an alternative. Legion of consumers who can not consume because of debt and money. This is different to the social movement. The current crisis is cultural (all economy is culture.) Matching people is one of the biggest industries, people are trapped in the machine no time to meet each other. What happens when the machine closes down? A crisis of trust in political system and financial system, no trust equals no society. We save the banks, we let people fall, the banks mismanage our money. Some people already live differently cause they want to others because they dont have any other choice.

What does network society mean.

The difference is that we are active in the network at the speed of light. The complete saturation of our lives within the network. Now we have this situation it may be impossible to go back.

Degrowth movement – go back to how things were.

Bipolar oppositions of the net and the self – the more we are connected to everything the more we need to know who we are. Unless I know who I am I dont know where I am in the world. Where ever there is domination there is resistance to domination.

The more someone has a personal project of autonomy the more they use the internet.

With social networks we live constantly in the network and they become a fundamental part of ourselves. This is irreversible and means we are more sociable. Is our individuality becoming fragmented? we reorganise our lives according to our projects, what it is we are trying to achieve at this point.

97%(Castell interviewed) of people have engaged in non capitalist activity. Money leant but no interest.

Marken gladwell?

The change is mainly in the consciousness than it is in the mainstream and out there. To make changes you must transform the minds of the people (be the 99%) why do we celebrate the network protest? because its the mind of the people.

networks dont need hierarchical structures, institutions become eroded, and new voting patterns arrise.

Prediction: The crisis is not over, unemployment grows, the only situation appears to destroy the welfare state. A backlash may appear from alternative systems. Capitalism is not at risk just financial systems and politics. People don’t want masters, they just want to survive.

Wait, the crisis will become global. Exploitation in china means that there are social explosions which are forcing destabilisation in china.

oppression from economies unable to accomodate the demands of economical and social changes so the country close off connections with other countries forcing civilians to be opressed


Castells believed that capitalism was in no way the target of protest, instead, it was the financial systems and political systems that are threatened. Castells argued that trust had a big part to play in why society has become disenfranchised from the systems that have been in place for so long. He also hinted at alternative currency systems which are active in todays societies. It would have been of interest to hear more about where he thought these alternative currencies were going to take society but I guess that is probably in the book.