Many contemporary accounts define our current society as a network society.
A network is any system which connects two previously unconnected entities. Networks exist in all societies throughout time, however modern technological advances have allowed networks to become predominate and increasingly functional. Castells explains that technology has allowed the developed networks to increase in complexity, operate on a larger scale, and with increased velocity.
It’s interesting to note that new technological networks overcome barriers that existed for networks in previous societies, including the ability to operate in real time and exist, because of globalisation, in global-local scale. “Networks know no boundaries”1.
This struck me because I found it odd that we are supposedly such a networked society, but I can’t contact my friend who is on a mission in the Philippines. Well I can, but only via snail mail and I have to send it to a general post office at the nearest town, where a local picks up the letters for the mission girls and delivers them around the area. It’s all very 1900s and quite different to my usual Facebook chat.
Castells explains however, while not all individuals are connected by this network, all countries are influenced by it. Everyone’s every day is influenced by the global network that exists. So while I can’t contact my friend I know that once she is home at the end of her year I will see her photos and experiences flood her facebook. She took those photos to share. Everything is “ultimately dominated by the logic, interests and conflicts of this network society.”1
Castells is saying that these networks are “the underlying structures of our lives”1.
1 Castells, M. (2004) ‘Afterword: why networks matter’. In Network Logic: Who governs in an interconnected world? (pp. 221-224)