Castells on the network society

by Lee Hopkins on August 10, 2011

in academic research,clippings,internal communications,strategy


contemplating the future for us as business communicators 

AS PART of my doctoral reading I’ve been having a good rummage through Manuel Castell’s excellent but heavy tome, Communication Power. Castells, through his massively influential series of books on power and the information society, has become a communications theorist that warrants being followed.

One particular element in a paragraph in Communication Power really caught my eye and made me sit up and ponder the impact for us as business communicators.

In a field study of Catalonian internet users, Tubella, Tabernero and Dwyer (2008)* found that

Fifty-six percent of the population are Internet users, and among Internet users, 89 percent are under 24 years of age. At the same time, it is a society in transition in which there is a mix between an aged, uneducated population and a dynamic, well-educated, Internet-savvy, young population. Thus, while only 8.9 percent of people over 60 years of age were daily users of the Internet in 2006, the percentage of the group between 16 and 29 years was 65.7 percent.

Now, I appreciate that Australia is not Catalonia. We have different levels of education amongst the broad spectrum of ages, with many senior citizens engaging in continued learning to keep their minds active. Additionally, many Australian senior citizens are internet-literate, which appears not to be the case in Catalonia if Tubella et al’s findings are to be extrapolated to the entire Catalonian population.

But what DID make me sit back and reflect was the obvious notion that as our aging Australian population retires and is replaced in the workforce by a generation of mobile-savvy communicators (and not just professional communicators like you or I), the communication landscape for businesses will continue to change and evolve.

I have long held that one of our principle roles as business communicators is to be Change Agents—supporting the changing directions and focus of business as market conditions change. Now that the social technologies have so embedded themselves into our professional lives (as witnessed by the Salt & Shein Annual Insight into the Communication Profession – 2011 report, penultimate page, for the NSW arm of the IABC), and with it the requirement for the seamless integration of mobile technology, our ability to influence and manage the communication of change around us is ever more vital.

As communicators we need to step up and influence those above us that the seismic shift of communication that evangelists like myself and others keep trumpeting about is very real, very now and very important.


* Tubela, Imma, Tabernero, Carlos, and Dwyer, Vincent (2008) La Guerra de las Pantallas: Internet y Television. Barcelona: Ariel

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