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Manuel Castells Social Structure

February 29, 2008

Manuel Castells’ description of how social structure is created is quite interesting.  Let me try to put this in my own words and hopefully retain accuracy.  Each society is a composite of social interaction (relationships) between production, consumption, individual experiences (need and desire) and division of power (the ability to exert force either actual physical force or symbolic exhibition of force).  These interactions are continuous and exhibited through and effected by many different relationships.


            Relationships include class, needs and desires, control.  Running simultaneously through these continual relationships is the concept of technology or as Castells defines it “the use of scientific knowledge to specify ways of doing things in a reproducible manner” (Castells, 2000, p. 8).  Therefore, technology is directly associated as an element of mode of production.  This leads to Castells’ interesting remark about Marxism.  According to the Marxian model this definition would lead us to segregate production derived from technical relationships (innovations, I assume) of production from social relationships of production.  He notes that he has once supported the division (Castells, 2000, p. 9).  It appears this could be described as a division between production of things and production of social concepts and experience.  Since social production exists it is a segment of technology (according to the above definition) and therefore must be recognized as a force of influence upon change in society.  Social production is therefore only a dimension of technology.


            This social production takes form in the interactions of members of society.  This interaction is expressed and interpreted according to the total social experience.  Castells notes “What makes sense to anyone is defined by the endless reconstruction by humans of the sources and purpose of their action, always constrained but never pre-scripted” (Castells, 2000, p. 7).  This means continual and diverging symbols created by social production affect all four elements of social structure involving production/consumption, experience and power.  


            Question:  Does this relate to the simple example of a video game?  For instance a product developed for targeting a heat emitting target with a goal of either protection or aggression (translatable to power) shape the lives of people when that same technology is made economical for public purchase in the form of a video game (translated to either or both consumption and entertainment)?  

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