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The cult of Castells

Do Manuel Castells's grand theories deserve their grand reputation?

By James Crabtree   February 2002

The internet bubble produced an abundance of in-house literature attempting to explain the phenomenon. Books with titles like Blur and New Rules for the New Economy vied with techno magazines such as Wired and Fast Company in their breathless admiration of change. But the most respected attempt to link the twin revolutions of technology and globalisation into a convincing narrative has come from a 57-year-old Spanish-born former Marxist, Manuel Castells, now professor of sociology and planning at Berkeley. His reputation is that of cartographer-in-chief to the information age.

If his dust-jackets are to be believed, Castells is a world-beater. Anthony…

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