According to both Manuel Castells “The Rise of Network Society” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) and Loci Waquant “Urban Outcasts” (PolityPress, 2008)
Contemporary society needs to be understood as a Post-Industrial or Network Society.
FIRST, spell out Castells’ analysis of contemporary society. In doing this should focus on the inequalities generated by this society within its networks, the space of flows.
SECOND, discuss the inequalities generated outside or on the borders of the space of flows. Here you should make use of Waquant’s analysis of the underclass in America’s inner cities or what he refers to as the Dark Ghetto.
THREE – How would you evaluate these analyses?
For Castells refer to the following passages in “The Rise of Network Society” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) for important. information: chpt -Prologue pgs 16-17; chpt The Information Technology Paradigm, pgs 69-72; chpt -Global financial markets pgs 104-105; chpt – The New Economy, pgs 150-151 and chpt – The Social theory of space and the theory of the space of flows, pgs 440-445.
For Wacquant, ref to the following passages for important information. Chpt 2 The state and fate of the Dark Ghetto at Century’s close – pgs4 46-47; From the communal ghetto’ of the 1950s to the ‘hyperghetto’ of the 1990s, pgs 52-55; chpt Economic and political roots of hyperghettoization, pgs 69-77; and finally 79-81. Please be sure to reference and quote.
Societies have been in a constant change; Man has been transforming to a better being biologically, socially and economically. From the cradle of humankind to the current man, there have been numerous changes. As man continues to change, so does the society he lives in. Many factors contribute to these changes; among them is information and technology. A few decades ago, countries were driven by the amount of energy they produced. This has however changed. Despite energy being a crucial fabric in the society, information has surpassed it. Today, countries are depending more on efficient flow of information (Castells, 2000b). With good systems of information, work is easily done and out increases in the different sectors of economy. According to Castells (2000a), the society has been intensively connected to network today to a point where it can be referred to as a global village. Networking has made it possible for people based in Asia to receive updates on what takes place in Europe on timely basis. With this speed, many people have become successful while others have continued to languish in abject poverty. Wacquant recognizes the situation and elaborates how some people become victims of segregation. This paper addresses the inequalities generated by the changing society to a more networked society and the effects such as dark ghettos (Wacquant, 2008).
Information acts as a double-edged sword cutting both sides with equal precision and depth. Many countries especially those in Europe and states in North America are continually expanding their economies. Other countries in Asia are also expanding their economies. However, a number of countries based in Asia and in Africa have continued to lag behind in terms of development. There has been inequality in the major in which growth has been occurring. Castells uses Africa as a perfect example. Technology is identified as one factor that has contributed to a huge success in turning around economies. With advancement in technology, western countries have succeded reducing the poverty levels. However, this has been the reverse in Africa (Castells, 2000a). In essence, technology appears to have failed to benefit Africa; the advancement of technology has failed substantially to take place. Technology is highly developed in industrialized regions such America, Europe and parts of Asia such as China and Israel. Therefore, it is a fact that the growth of technology mostly occurs in matters pertaining to industrial production. Africa, on the other hand, is not industrialized hence the technology does has not posed major impact. the adverse situation has turned Africa to be an agricultural continent where it does not even feed its entire people.
A network society has also created inequality in terms of labor. As countries develop better communication systems and advance in technology, more people are absorbed in communication sector of an economy. In addition, many people become informed and cannot accept wages below a certain level. According to Castells, the global economy is still capitalist because many organizations are after making profits. The current economy, just as the previous ones is based on property rights. As a result, companies look for all ways to ensure that they capitalize on all options to increase their profits. One of the ways to increase profits is by cutting the production cost. In production cost, cost of labor in some many cases is very high (Castells, 2000a). Consequently, many organizations have opted to cut on labor cost. With the current knowledge and flow of information, companies have opted to obtain cheap labor from countries in Asia and Africa. A good example is the Nike; the company has outsourced its operations to parts of Asia because the region has abundant cheap labor. Workers in the region receive wages far less than what was offered to workers when the entire operations were based in the United States. This is the height of inequality presented by the trend in society despite the rise of network. While some economies have grown through advancement of technology, some are deteriorating because of relying on cheap labor; poor children are exploited in Africa to work for various organizations. Subsequently, they forget the value of their studies and hence remain illiterate with high levels of illiteracy, poverty remains at high levels.
Many people have purported that poor governance and lack of political will is the main reason for poverty in Africa. However, Castells recognizes the effect these aspects have on the economy, but goes ahead and explains that the network society causes the major part of inequality in society. Politics and governance are not directly linked with production but communication and technology are part of production. The systems of communication are not homogenous in all organizations and countries. The situaion creates a gap between those with efficient communication systems and those with poor systems. As a result, production levels are high in organizations and countries with good communication systems and lower in those with moderate to poor systems.
Castells developed the theory of the social theory of space to explain the advancement of human life. The social theory of space stipulates that space played an instrumental role in conducting a society. Built space such as the landscapes, cities, and buildings influence how human life as selfhood, cognition, politics, power, ideological and social relations. The process of articulating concepts of built space is a fundamental instrument of understanding identity, and conciseness of humankind. On a similar note, Castells being an urban geographer addressed the issue of space in space of flows and space of places. The space of flows recognizes the internet as an area where business can be made more efficient.
Today, most companies have adopted the use of websites in their marketing policies. In social media, companies advertise their products and also have time and space to interact directly with their customers. This clearly brings out the idea of a space that is not geographically based. The space of flow, however, is not purely electronic space. It is a combination of technological infrastructure, transportation lines, and telecommunications (Castells, 2000b).
In the creation of the global city, many people claimed that space would be lost. However, Castells, firmly denies their claims that no space will be lost. He bases his facts on accounts that the space is not what many think it is. He defines it as the material support brought about by time-sharing practices especially social practices (Castells, 2000b). The space of flows, therefore, brings together locations that are a distant away through the sharing of functions and use of electronic circuits (Friedmann, 2004). These factors combined with fasts transportation systems.
The space of flows posed serious implications in the society that are segregated in terms of infrastructure lag behind in development. In defining space of flows, it is made clearly that social practices are crucial to success of any society as it brings societies together. This together with connectivity to internet forms the fabric of developing economy.
Waquant describes the existence of dark ghettos in US and the Red Belt in France. These two societies are the resultant of a neglected society (Wacquant, 2008). The government neglects them and societies for being blacks, racism influence the formation of the ghettos. The Latinos are equally affected by racism. The government fails in its duties for failing to provide reliable infrastructure. Without fast transportation systems, service delivery is slow. This way, very few if any organization may be located in the ghettos. The ghettos are also highly populated. With resources being scarce, many of the youths tend to enter into drug trafficking deals while others in crime (Wacquant, 2008). This has made them susceptible to frequent arrests. Due to racism, space of flow in the ghettos is not functional. There is no good information exchange between people living in the ghetto and the neighboring communities. The poverty levels in these ghettos are also very high. As a result, many children do not get a chance to attend school. Those that get the opportunity to go to school excel and are able to shift from the ghetto because they are exposed to adequate information. Additionally, they attend schools where internet and infrastructure are good.
With poor roads, frequent arrests by police and poor communication systems, societies living in the ghettos languish in poverty (Garnham, 2001). They are discriminated by the rest of society. Black people are often termed as urban outcasts especially in the cities. The inequality exists in society as revealed by statistics that a black American is more likely to be arrested in the US than any other community is. Prison has in fact become a common place for the blacks (Wacquant, 2009). Many people recognize the hand of the government in this segregation especially because the government does very little if any to reform the ghettos. Additionally, for a long while the government has been silent in the levels of racism. The concept of space of flows can be used to improve lives in the dark ghettos. Without the flow of information and quick delivery of services, the economy is hard to grow.
The analyses by both Waquant and Castells bring out the main problem in the contemporary world. It presents the cause of the trends in today’s world and focus on the future of societies and economy as well. Advancement in technology has had a great impact in the contemporary world. It has promoted production as industries can now produce more units at the same time when compared to some years back. However, this advancement in technology and the rate at which information flows has also had negative impacts on the society. Countries in Africa are the worst hit by the effects of flow of information and high technology. Many of these countries have been used to provide labor for the developed countries. Laborers are lowly paid hence they always depend on the developed society for help.
The concept of space of flow is yet another factor that is very important in the contemporary world. Without fast communication and transport systems, development is slow. A social practice, which is part of space of flows, plays a huge role in society. With practices such as racism, dark ghettos have formed in the US. To correct this, the government and other stakeholders should ensure that they eliminate the inequalities brought about by the rise of a network society.
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