This seminar, strictly reserved to graduate students, will analyze and discuss the book just published by Manuel Castells ‘Communication Power’, Oxford University Press, 2009. This book, based on many years of investigation on communication and political processes around the world, proposes a new theory of power in the network society. The book argues that power relationships are primarily constructed in the communication realm. After reviewing classical theories of power and situating them in the framework of the network society, the book proceeds with an empirical analysis of the technological and organizational transformation of the global communication system, emphasizing the rise of a new form of communication, mass self communication. The next three chapters examine the mechanisms by which messages are processed in the communication environment, the central role of media in politics, and the new possibilities for social change provided to social movements and insurgent politics by the use of new digital, horizontal networks of communication. The book ends with the proposal of a new theory of power based on communication.
The seminar will not feature formal presentations. Participants are assumed to have read the whole book, and they will initiate each session with comments and questions related to their intellectual interests. Professor Castells will respond and elaborate, conducting an open ended debate on the contents of the book, and extending it to any additional related matters.
The seminar will be organized in three sessions. The first session will examine the transformation of communication: the discussion will center on chapter 2 of the book. The second session will focus on media politics, social movements, and insurgent politics, and will refer to chapters 3, 4, and 5. The last session will then proceed with a systematic discussion on a new theory of power, based on the commentary of chapter 1 and of the conclusion.