Open Access

Castells’ network concept and its connections to social, economic and political network analyses


This article discusses the conceptualization of network in Manuel Castells’ theory of network society and its relation to network analysis. Networks assumed a significant role in Castells’ opus magnum, The Information Age trilogy, in the latter half of the 1990s. He became possibly the most prominent figure globally in adopting network terminology in social theory, but at the same time he made hardly any empirical or methodological contribution to network analysis. This article sheds light on this issue by analyzing how the network logic embraced by Castells defines the social, economic, and political relations in his theory of network society, and how such aspects of his theory relate to social network analysis. It is shown that Castells’ institutional network concept is derived from the increased relevance of networks as the emerging form of social organization, epitomized by the idea of global networks of instrumental exchanges. He did not shed light on the internal dynamics of networks, but was nevertheless able to use network as a powerful metaphor that aptly portrayed his idea of the new social morphology of informational capitalism.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, other