Space Of Flows
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Space Of Flows


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Space of Flows 
 
Manuel Castells 
 
 
 
Marieke Francke S0520039 
Else Ham S0520047 
 
Geographical Approaches 
26/01/2006 
 
Contents 
 
 
1. Biography ................................................................................................ 3 
 
 
2. Introduction on Space of Flows.................................................................... 4 
 
 
3. Manuel Castells & Space of Flows................................................................. 5 
 
3.1. The New Industrial Space ................................................................. 5 
 
3.2. End of Cities?.................................................................................. 6 
 
3.3. The Informational City...................................................................... 6 
 
3.4. Space of Flows ................................................................................ 8 
 
3.5. Places and Non-Places...................................................................... 9 
 
 
4. Other Thinkers.......................................................................................... 10 
 
4.1. John Urry ....................................................................................... 10 
 
4.2. Anthony Giddens ............................................................................. 10 
 
 
5. Space of Flows in Everyday Life................................................................... 11 
 
 
Sources 12 
 
 
 3 
Biography 
 
 
Manuel Castells was born in Spain in 1942. He grew up in Barcelona where he studied 
law and economics at the University of Barcelona from 1958 until 1962. As a student 
activist against General Franco\u2019s fascist dictatorship he had to escape to Paris. He 
continued his study in Paris in order to obtain his PhD. Based on statistical analysis of 
location strategies of high-tech industrial firms in the Paris region, his doctoral work 
alerted to two issues that would continue to preoccupy Castells over the next three 
decades namely, the emergence of new technologies and the changing form of cities. 
Working in Paris at this time brought Castells into contact with leading Marxist 
theorists. Expelled by the French government, because of his participation in the 
revolutionary fervour of May 1968, he spent periods in Chili and Canada before returning 
to Paris in 1972. 
Castells\u2019 first major work \u2013 The Urban Question: A Marxist Approach \u2013 was also 
published in 1972. It was announced as a remarkable and pioneering attempt to bring 
Marxist concepts and perspectives to bear on the \u2018urban question\u2019. In Castells opinion, 
Marxist theorists had yet to analyze cities in a sufficiently specific way. This work inspired 
a generation of geographers to engage with theories of political economy and utilized the 
insight of Marxist theory as a means to explore the urbanization of injustice. Castells thus 
found himself at forefront of the new urban sociology. 
In 1989, Castells published The Informational City which is an analysis of the urban 
and regional changes brought about by information technology and economics 
restructuring in the United States. It highlighted changes in the nature of urban 
governance that were contributing to the \u2018dual\u2019 city where poor, immigrant workers 
\u2018serviced\u2019 a more affluent elite, working in hi-tech and knowledge rich industries. 
This served as a forerunner to his three-volume treatise on The Information Age: 
Economy, Society and Culture, comprising The Rise of The Network Society (1996), The 
Power of Identity (1997) and the End of Millenium (1998). In The Rise of The Network 
Society, Castells introduces the term \u2018Space of Flows\u2019. 
 
 
 
 
 
 4 
2. Introduction on Space of Flows 
 
 
The global economy is organized around command and control centers able to 
coordinate, innovate, and manage intertwined activities of networks of firms. Advanced 
services, such as finance, consulting, design and scientific innovation, are at the core of 
all economic processes. They all can be reduced to knowledge generation and information 
flows. Advanced telecommunications systems could make possible their scattered 
locations around the globe. 
New activities concentrate in particular poles and that implies an increase of 
disparities between the urban poles and their respective hinterlands. The global city 
phenomenon cannot be reduced to a few urban cores at the top of the hierarchy. It is a 
process that connects advanced services, producer centers, and markets in a global 
network, with different intensity and at a different scale depending upon the relative 
importance of the activities located in each area vis-à-vis the global network. Inside each 
country, the networking architecture reproduces itself into regional and local centers, so 
that the whole system becomes interconnected at the global level. 
Furthermore, globalization stimulates regionalization. The growing internationali-
zation of economic activities throughout Europe has made regions more dependent on 
these activities. Regions have established networks of cooperation between regional 
institutions and between region-based companies. Regions and localities do not 
disappear, but become integrated in international networks that link up their most 
dynamic sectors. 
Cities, or rather, their business districts, are information-based, value production 
complexes, where corporate headquarters and advanced financial firms can find both the 
suppliers and the highly skilled, specialized labor they require. 
Factors that seem to contribute to strengthen the concentration of high level 
activities are the reluctance to move by corporations because of the investment in real 
estate, and the necessary face-to-face contacts for critical decisions. Furthermore, major 
metropolitan centers still offer the greatest opportunities for the personal enhancement, 
social status, and individual self-gratification of the much-needed upper-level 
professionals. 
The global city is not a place, but a process. A process by which centers of 
productions and consumptions of advanced services, and their ancillary local societies, 
are connected in a global network, while simultaneously downplaying the linkages with 
their hinterlands, on the basis of information flows. 
 
 5 
3. Manuel Castells & Space of Flows 
 
 
3.1 The New Industrial Space 
 
The New Industrial Space is a concept Castells uses to describe the changed formation 
of space as a consequence of technological innovations. This space is characterized by 
the technological and organizational ability to separate the production process in different 
locations while reintegrating its unity through telecommunication linkages, and 
microelectronics-based precision and flexibility in the fabrication of component. 
High-technology manufacturing is organized around two predominant groups of 
roughly similar size; a highly skilled, science- and technology-based labor force and a 
mass of unskilled workers engaged in routine assembly and auxiliary operations. 
Castells describes four different types of locations for each one of the four 
distinctive operations in the production process. 
\u2022 R&D, innovation, and prototype fabrication were concentrated in highly 
innovative industrial centers in core areas; 
\u2022 Skilled fabrication in branch plants was generally located in newly 
industrializing areas in the home country; 
\u2022 Semi-skilled, large-scale assembly and testing work that from the very 
beginning was located offshore, particularly in South East Asia; 
\u2022 Customizing of devices and aftersales maintenance and technical support, 
which was organized in regional centers throughout the globe. 
 
A key element in the location pattern of the high technology industry is the decisive 
importance