Bert Olivier
Bert Olivier

The ‘space of flows’ and the social elites of today

In Manuel Castells’s influential book, The Rise of the Network Society (Second edition, 2010, Chapter 6), he devotes a very revealing discussion to what he describes as the dominant spatial form of the network society, namely the “space of flows”.

In his theorisation of the novel, now dominant spatial mode – the “space of flows” – which has replaced the traditionally dominant “space of places”, Castells (2010: Chapter 6, Section 5) points out that the new kind of “mega-city” taking shape today in various parts of the world as an interconnected series of functionally connected urban areas (around Hong Kong, for instance), can be understood as a process, rather than as a place in the traditional sense.

If this seems counter-intuitive, consider that, as he shows at length in the book, contemporary society is articulated through “flows” of various kinds – “flows of capital, flows of information, flows of technology, flows of organisational interaction, flows of images, sounds, and symbols”. Moreover, “Flows are not just one element of the social organisation: they are the expression of processes dominating our economic, political, and symbolic life” (Castells 2010: Chapter 6, Section 5).

Hence, he defines the novel, dominant spatial mode as follows: “The space of flows is the material organisation of time-sharing social practices that work through flows. By flows I understand purposeful, repetitive, programmable sequences of exchange and interaction between physically disjointed positions held by social actors in the economic, political, and symbolic structures of society. Dominant social practices are those which are embedded in dominant social structures. By dominant structures I understand those arrangements of organisations and institutions whose internal logic plays a strategic role in shaping social practices and social consciousness for society at large.”

Fortunately, given the sometimes confusing level of abstraction involved, Castells makes the “space of flows”, as material support of flow-oriented social practices, more concrete by specifying three constituent “layers” of such material support: first, “ … a circuit of electronic exchanges”; second, the “nodes and hubs” of the space of flows; and third, “ … the spatial organization of the dominant, managerial elites”.

The first layer comprises broadcasting systems, telecommunications, micro-electronics-operated devices, computer processing, but also transportation at high speed, because it depends on information technologies. What makes this different from former material support systems, is that here – in a manner uncannily mimicking the poststructuralist re-interpretation of Saussure’s structuralist notion of language as a diacritical system of differences (signifiers that have meaning only in terms of their differences, inscribed in each signifier as a trace) – “no place exists by itself, since the positions are defined by the exchanges of flows in the network”. Castells adds something that emphasises the precondition for being a potentially significant participant in today’s “processual” society: “Thus, the network of communication is the fundamental spatial configuration: places do not disappear, but their logic and their meaning become absorbed in the network”.

The “nodes and hubs” of the second layer are an indication that, while the structural logic of the space of flows is “placeless”, this space is not. The electronic network that underpins it functions as a link between specific places – more or less like a “rhizome”, in Deleuze and Guattari’s botanical metaphor for contemporary society – with specific functions, such as exchange or communication “hubs”, or the “nodes” where strategically significant functions are located. Not all of these are of equal weight in the system – the “key” hubs and nodes occupy hierarchically higher positions in the system than others, always subject to change, depending on the evolution of network activities.

As an example of this nodal structure of the space of flows Castells mentions the system of decision-making governing the global financial system, although it is equally valid for advanced technology manufacturing. Important to note is the fact that the level of fulfillment of a certain function in the network, rather than location, determines the overall importance of a “nodal” entity. The fact that Castells can simultaneously refer to centres of advanced medical treatment as well as of the production and dissemination of narcotics (e.g. cocaine) production as instances of the contingent evolution of hierarchically important nodes, confirms Jacques Derrida’s claim, in Specters of Marx, that international criminal networks have become inseparably entwined with the capitalist economic system.

The third material layer of the space of flows involves the spatial distribution of the social agents that dominate this space, to wit, the “managerial elites”. To anyone under the illusory impression that the “representative democracies” of today enshrine the principle of social and economic equality, Castells’s description of the social hierarchies engendered by the processes comprising the space of flows, would come as a surprise – and here in the work of an “impartial” social theorist, and not in that of Marxist thinkers such as Hardt and Negri, or a poststructuralist political philosopher such as Jacques Ranciére.

Castells’s description of the directional functions of these elites leaves no doubt that contemporary society is “asymmetrically organised around the dominant interests specific to each social structure”, and that, while these interests may differ between identifiable groups – and hence involve different spatial logics – the dominant interest-groups have a spatial logic of their own. Here Castells (2010: Chapter 6, Section 5) issues an important reminder:

“But such domination is not purely structural. It is enacted, indeed conceived, decided, and implemented by social actors. Thus, the technocratic-financial-managerial elite that occupies the leading positions in our societies will also have specific spatial requirements regarding the material/spatial support of their interests and practices. The spatial manifestation of the informational elite constitutes another fundamental dimension of the space of flows. What is this spatial manifestation?

“The fundamental form of domination in our society is based on the organizational capacity of the dominant elite that goes hand in hand with its capacity to disorganise those groups in society which, while constituting a numerical majority, see their interests partially (if ever) represented only within the framework of the fulfillment of the dominant interests. Articulation of the elites, segmentation and disorganization of the masses seem to be the twin mechanisms of social domination in our societies. Space plays a fundamental role in this mechanism. In short: elites are cosmopolitan, people are local. The space of power and wealth is projected throughout the world, while people’s life and experience is rooted in places, in their culture, in their history. Thus, the more a social organisation is based upon a-historical flows, superseding the logic of any specific place, the more the logic of global power escapes the socio-political control of historically specific local/national societies.”

Castells goes on to indicate that this logic of domination appears in the space of flows in a twofold manner, both of which are familiar to all of us, albeit not as participants. The elites establish “their own society” (including secluded communities, exclusively priced real estate, spatially restricted, networked, subcultural, decision-making interactions such as those on the golf course, in exclusive restaurants or airport lounges), and they create a culturally distinctive “lifestyle” intent on unifying and “standardizing” the symbolic spatial environment of elites globally (e.g. international hotels with similar room-design and decoration). This makes for a society that is, to say the least, as hierarchical as Plato’s ideal Republic.

Tags: , , , , , ,

  • The present ‘world dis-order’
  • The decline of the American Empire
  • Pauw’s revelations and democracy
  • What makes for a good life: Scott’s ‘A Good Year’
    • http://non Leon van der Westhuizen 211057347

      Secondly, diverse social movements are the space of flows made possible by interconnected routes, creating bridges between flows and spaces. Therefor the space of flows has become part of our everyday life and will continue to grow and influence society where we lose the unique connection with space of place(local)

    • Ruth Nelson 211202177

      The Space that flows is indicitive of the capitalist and market driven contemporary societies that surround us. It is composed of flows of capital, information, technology, images, sounds symbols. The space that flows is not neutral and exists in a series of layers. The first being technology and information, as now no place exists in isolation, continuously connected to a broader network. The logic and meaning of our physical surroundings are absorbed, culminating in a sense of “placelessness”. The second layer, is that of nodes and hubs. Points of specific functions that are hierarchal in nature. This begins to reveal an inherent social order to the space that flows. The third layer is that of the “social-elites”. Spaces are organised around dominant interests specific to each social structure, organised by the dominant “elite”.

      Castell argues that the space that flows is “crushing” the space of people, places, history and culture, all characteristics which are site specific. The architect and theorist Christian Norberg-Schultz, argued in his book “Genus-Loci”, that mankind, ever since the defeat of the Greeks, has digressed further and further from the earth, and eventually in the 20th Century, to an architecture which is centred around the motif of the machine. This suggests that the central concerns of humanity have shifted from a focus on the earth and nature to a focus on man’s achievements and technological advancements.

    • Mpho Magwabeni 209013538#

      Network society connected in cyber space but disjointed from the space of place in this intricate processed mega-city that functionally connects urban spaces for robo-humans programmed to live in the flow of negative, placeless space. The actors are drowned by the increasingly ever-changing currents of space of flows and have merely become sinking ships unaware of the space of place; material and time. The space of flows becomes the negative space that actors interrelate with as a cross movement to their desired place. We have all become distant relatives connected by cyber-genetic in-print that distinguish our social statues and our interaction hence the globe is starting to look more and more the same as a 3d print of an image we have seen before, engine by capital, technology and ever consuming human.

    • Kay-leigh Tobbell s210028777#

      No space is exactly like one another, it’s diverse in character and content, making it heterogeneous. Space comes in many forms. Cyberspace is the environment in which communication over computer networks occurs and occupied by an avatar which represents oneself over the internet. It places people in a ‘space of total flow’ as they overcome spatial barriers around the world, under time – space compression, the ‘as if you were there’ is truncated to a ‘you are there’. Thus it is has positives and negatives to it; with people being able to have open access to information etc. and ‘virtually’ visit any part of the world but people will start to rely and permanently ‘live’ in this world, therefore loose valuable social skills. An example mentioned in class; is of a lady that loses her leg thus her freedom of space is affected. People were accepting in World of Warcraft (WOW), a Cyberspace game and gave her confidence and courage to face the real world and socialise. Cyberspace is not neutral as real emotions are truly affected.
      With Cyberspace being able to do everything by itself (from ordering food online to all the financial centres being connected to NYSE), it will soon become merged with humans as technology advances rapidly. This is not beneficial for the human kind and space of places. Space of places is slowly becoming less and less evident in today’s world, whilst space of flows is taking over the space of the world rapidly.

    • Euan Geduld (s20402100)

      Much of the population of world we live in is somehow connected to the space of flows, how perceive, communicate, interact and socialize has become something that is increasingly less physical (seperation between interactors) and thus having a great effect on privacy and how we perceive and behave in space. The growing influence of technology (something that adds convenience to our human lives) also has a huge impact on how we move through different spaces, the cars we drive, the buses we commute in somehow seperates a here and there, something that in the past would have been avoided by a walk to the workplace encountering a number of experiences along the way.

      Globalization and economic drive will continue to play a major part in our lives where elitism would result in some way or another from those who have a means to advancement in life, whether in a capitalist or communist system.

    • Michael Davidson s210050322

      My thought is that the modern world in which we find ourselves might be described as one of confused identity. Fast-food franchises are found in the majority of world cities and that small gadget, the cellphone, is to be found even in the most rural African village. It is my thought that we are fast moving to a completely integrated world society, where the lines between various cultures and societies will become blurred. Yet us humans will pay the price of finding ourselves no longer grounded in our heritage and of no longer understanding what I, as an individual, coming from a unique time and place, have to offer the world in which I live.
      Castells introducing the “space of flows” highlights this. The examples of the first “layer” have led to a fast paced interconnected world, and this because so much of society is driven by a consumerist mentality. We find ourselves losing our footing, resulting from the speed of our time, which in turn is rooted in our desires for obtaining more and more (be it food, possessions, a comfortable lifestyle), the essence of consumerism.
      Regarding the “social elites”, I would ask: are they even aware that they are thus? Or is it not becoming ingrained in each and every one of us affected by “the space of flows” that the position of a “social elite” is what we should be aiming for, even if we do not register that the top positions in industries and commercial enterprises are essentially that of the “social elites”, those controlling society?

    • 211055824

      Criminalized space can be said to have resulted form the spaces of flows, not completely but largely in today’s city. This is due to the fact that it is a type of wild space (Untamed by people) through which one must venture in order to arrive at ones destination. An example of this could be the space along a highway or a very busy road which has little or no activity along its edges. Those who travel along this road by car do not stop at any point along it because there is no reason or place at which to stop, therefore the space becomes dead in a sense, making it ideal for criminal activity as no one will notice or bare witness to what is happening on the side of a road when their determined to reach their destination.This creation of criminal space in the space of flows is a direct result of the invention of the motor car on one hand and the modernist theory of how cities should be structured. Firstly the motor car as it created the possibility for the modernists to create a city that is zoned into separate places connected by flows of wild spaces. The result of the car is a space which is enclosed and controlled by the occupant of that space and is disconnected from the spaces around him/her even though he/she is moving through them. Secondly the modernist model for architecture as a machine for living with all its various functions zoned and connected by spaces of flows. eg. Appartments connected by corridors and stairwells. These spaces also become wild in nature.

    • Brendon Bowles 210059761

      The Space of flow s as a network society in a capitalist dominated environment can be categorized into three main categories. These categories being economic, political and symbolic life and the idea of dominated social practice as being those which are embedded in dominated social structures, in my opinion, a relative degree of social conformity is required in order for the space of flows to come into existence.
      A desire within social structures is important in order for the space of flows to be successful. An example of this can be the forming of Facebook. The capitalist driven society is required to conform to a certain way mode of social networking. The concept of people uploading photographs of them in a casual manner may have seemed absurd in previous decades. Today society has conformed to this ideology as an acceptable social practice.
      To further emphasize my point on the same example of Facebook, and societies conforming ,before Baylor University had Facebook on the campus, in the initial stages of the social networking entity, it was distributed to a list of smaller universities within a relative close radius of Baylor University. Eventually the desirability and conformity which I spoke about took over and a new form of the space of flows was introduced to Baylor University.
      The idea that space is never neutral is one that supports the space of flows, as stated by the post-structuralist that: “no place exists by itself, since the positions are defined by…

    • Daniela de Lange – 210035498

      Although cyberspace is an incredibly superficial and flaccid space where many of us spend a distressing amount of time, it is a very powerful reality. In my opinion, the primary issue with the space of flows is the effect is has on society’s psyche. This spatial condition of being everywhere but nowhere, gives individuals a false sense of control and an illusion of independence in their lives.
      Modern life revolves around efficiency and results – a consequence of capitalism headed by the elites of the world. The focus of people’s daily lives consists almost purely of the products, the gain. The timelessness of the space of flows allows society to obtain results instantly, without delays by physical friction. Regrettably, this ease of achievement has resulted in society growing shockingly lazy on a mental level, leading to physical and emotional sluggishness; solidifying the dependence on the space of flows.
      Society is spiraling out of balance between the basic human need of grinding for an outcome, working with challenges and creatively thinking of solutions; and between trying to keep up with the modern speed of life.
      Society is fooling itself by thinking that the space of flows is limitless and filled with endless opportunities, when in fact; it’s strictly controlled by the greed of the elites. This needs to be realized so people grow discontent what they are spoon-fed and begin humanizing themselves by realizing the importance of physical and mental awareness.

    • Jason Fijac 209201955

      The space of flows has in some senses become the epitomical symbol of the social elites of today who in many cases seek to break their relation with the cultural, historical, traditional and spatial aspects or characteristics of the locale in pursuit of a lifestyle which is ahistorical, acultural and possible even antihumanist in its disconnection with time and place.
      This can be observed as one of the greatest negatives of the postmodern condition, which initially rejected the notions and ideologies of international style of the modern era for a more eclectic and worldly spatial organisation of space. This ironically resulted in a comparable loss of the sense of place and rootedness of form, which led to a great sense of disconnection between form, space and time. (as did the international style)

      The decreasing sense of place (or meaningful place) and the growing sense of integration between people through the internet has seen the hierarchy between the “space of flows” and “the space of place” been upturned in recent times. Space has become less dominant in its meaningfulness to the elites of today who tend to live in the space of flows rather than to live and appreciate the meaningfulness that a space of place can provide.

      This is possibly a result of the sense of flows which dominates the capitalist society in which we live. From the perspective of the elites of today within this society, is a space of place not perceived as limiting in terms of its rootedness

    • Jason Fijac 209201955

      This is possibly a result of the sense of flows which dominates the capitalist society in which we live. From the perspective of the elites of today within this society, is a space of place not perceived as limiting in terms of its rootedness to a specific locale. Living in the space of flows allows for a greater sense of economic integration, probably to the detriment of the meaningfulness of the traditional “space of place.”

    • Rosabelle Mederick s210061278

      Historically, human beings have produced spaces in different ways. Even though these have been structured, there has been a production of different kinds of spaces. Therefore, space is not neutral as it exists in different variables. In today’s world, creating space is increasingly becoming more concerned with functionality, rather than with uplifting the human spirit.
      Globalization has led to the spread of certain types of spaces which relates to the space of flows, in that they are standardized and monotonous, relating only to a particular group of ‘elites’ in an otherwise vast society.
      What effects has this had on our lives, and how do we recognize the influence of the space of flows? Gradually there seems to be a subtle transformation of space, and people are becoming blind to the qualitative difference between these. This is the result of the intentional making of spaces today by capitalism. It represents the ruthlessness of the space of flows in producing spaces which are cold and inhumane.
      Shouldn’t the function of architecture be to provide ethos for people, in order to for them to find a sense of place and role in the world? Generally, I believe that architecture should strive to encourage people to discover what their task as human beings are at this point in time, and make them reflect on what’s going on in the world. Phenomenologists like Tadao Ando, has tried to enhance these qualities in his work. His buildings embody humanized and safe spaces that…

    • Jan-Willem Smith s210147628

      We are part of a global society that has been sucked into a world that we perceive as being understood and controlled by ourselves to a curtain degree, so we continue to live our lives and go about blindly accepting the social structural systems that we find ourselves in.
      The space of place that dominated the social and characteristic environment that we knew and lived in for centuries has been overrun by greeted ego, money and power driven environments, thus finding ourselves more controlled by the capitalist society than we thought. This ‘never sleeping’ society we’re in is globally connected 24/7 through a network of interconnect forms of spaces such as the internet and television that is constantly bombarding us with information on the next big thing (smartphone that you can’t live without) or local wars (Lesohto, that we need to start worrying about). We are being brainwashed into excepting rather than making decisions for ourselves. We are so trapped in this fast paced world that we don’t stop to acknowledge the here and now (place and present) we are more focused on the there and then (perceived place and future). This future driven thinking could be perceived by some as a good ideological approach but it creates society’s that are more segregated by being more connected in the space of flows, playing into the hand of the ‘never sleeping’ society.

    • Sinqumo Sibanda s213210053

      The concept of space of flows has a number of facets embedded in it. I will look at just two. Firstly there is an alienation of those who are not party to the idea of creation and activities that are happening in the space of flows. The elites, as the author suggests, these are a clique that only resonates with these specific activities which support and sustain the space of flows. Now, those who are not “members” are by virtue of not participating are alienated. Secondly, there is an imposition of the space of flows to those who not part of drivers of the creation of the space of flows. With the modulation and the standardisation of the spaces of flows, none “members” who get to use these spaces are conscripted into the system and by default, they sustain and perpetrate their existence. As an example, an ordinary holiday maker will be forced to go through the airports in the process of connecting between two points and stay in the hotels for their holiday. These facilities have become the greatest of the space of flows. These facilities are a necessity for both the elite and a holiday maker yet the agendas are different.
      A notion of compressing time is also embedded in the production of the space of flows. Things must be timeless so that no specific periodic identity can be attached to these spaces, thus achieving universality. On the other hand, the art and craft movement was concerned with having an identity and relevance that is time based as way of relating with space…

    • Kounikui Karihindi 214305058

      Bert does a good job to outline the tripartite nature of Castells’s the “Space of Flows” (SOF) or its actualization, if can be said. If I am not misunderstanding Bert, according the third actualization it is seeming to allude more to the creation of “homogenized space”(Fieve & Wales, 2003:198) totally unconnected with its locality but totally “abstract” in nature of which it said that “the dependence of space on time and money” signifies the emergence thereof.
      The Space of Flows also unsettles Bachelard’s notion that buildings, as physical entities that define ‘space’ or the bounds of it contain a universal language to which all people can relate as his book poetics of space attests.
      What the SOF indicates is that space is infinite and not determinable. For the benefit of philosophical thought I will take Jencks, post-modern conclusions that all ideas based on their non-adherence to single common norm are welcome and irrelevant or are noteworthy thereby one has to be objective when looking at the SOF. There is not much that one can do to free oneself of the space of flows the noose ever gets tighter and the SOF is ultimately supported by the law of which Derrida (1992) says “is the result of an act of violence whose function is for the sovereign power to exercise its authority, at the moment of inserting the law into society.” e.g. Apple, Google e.t.c are juristic persons who dominate the ordinary but are protected by patent laws and perpetuate the domination.

    • Jonathan Gilmour s211170593

      The Elites in our very real Network society hold money, in their mind, as a concept, and leveraging tool. The Elites occupy the same physical space as the poor who hold money in their mind as a vital substance, a key to resources essential to life. By “poor” i mean those outside of both the ‘space of the elites’ and the ‘space of flows’, those on the bottom end of our hierarchical society.

      These Elites have their own space in which they can safe-guard and generate their wealth and power. essentially there exists a deliberate threshold between 2 worlds

      * the space of flows with its limited opportunities which we are subject to and
      * the space of the elites, which is not easily crossed over to and impossibly out of reach of those who are at the bottom.

      The information system which structures the network society also creates this threshold that separates the wealth of the powerful from those of the poor. where better to hide ones wealth from those who are hungry for it than in a place of “placeless-ness”, and that’s exactly where the Elites power and wealth exist. So system cannot be overthrown in the same way when the people notice the gross injustice of this polarization of wealth and power, as it may have been done 100years ago where one might storm the castle, behead the king and take back his country.

    • Jonathan Gilmour s211170593

      The space of flows has given the Elites a space to disguises money and power that is far more secure and less obvious, allowing greater accumulation of wealth without being noticed, than ever seen before in history, while, at the same time, mobilizing their influence on an inter continental scale, this time, without physically building a fortified castle and sending out armies and fleets to gain influence and power.

      The castles and arms of the elites are in the process of colonizing Africa, and to a large degree already have through initiatives such as the FIFA world cup in South Africa, and other So called international prestigious events which layout out highways of physical and information-technology infrastructure of “space of flows” in a country that sits very low on the socio-economic hierarchy of contemporary society.

      I personally am nervous for what the long term effects are of a network society, where power and influence are based in the West, imposed on a largely disconnected continent, that is Africa.

    • Mareli Meyer 211089273

      The space of flows exists in a series of layers. The first being telecommunication, information technology and just in general fast moving technologies. This layer to me is the most interesting. Jason Silva explains this really well, he says; “Through technology we transcend the limitations of thought, reach and vision… We transcend time space and distance.” Ultimately this is how i understand the ‘space of flows’. A child in Africa has better communications technology than the US president had 25 ears ago (Peter Diamandis). This makes me wonder, is it just the social elites that live in the ‘space of flows’ or have we all subconsciously become part of the ‘space of flows’ because we are all in symbiosis with the exponentially growing technologies of today.

    • Grant Booysen s211061506

      The idea of the “space of flows” or the space of the elites and the concern shown by Castells regarding the agendas of the social agents or those elites who dominate the societal structures of today could easily be passed off as a form of conspiracy theory, but many of the points that he brings forward and the facts or observations regarding the “space of flows” in comparison with the space of places and how the former is imposing upon the latter and the effective results cannot simply be ignored, although his implied reasons or thoughts as to why this is the current situation are in my mind questionable. Castells’s deductions and theories carry a certain weight but cannot be credited as absolutes.

      For me the point put forward can be categorised (very much like any design process or a piece of art or literature) into the conceived and the perceived. For example the artist creates a piece of art with an idea in his mind that drives the eventual end product, but when he puts it out on display it can be viewed in a very different manner to which he intended – in essence the concept of the death of the author, suggested by Barthes’s 1967 essay.

      How this concept relates to this piece of text and my interpretation of Catells’s ideas is this: A certain resultant, or “piece of art” has been observed. This resultant is the situation that society finds itself in with regard to the space of flows, the elites, the dictators, and the “little people”, etc. A conclusion…

    • Grant Booysen s211061506

      A conclusion has been drawn, based on the author’s perception of this resultant, as to how it has been conceived.

      There are two possible reasons or theories explaining why we find ourselves stuck under some kind of agenda governed by the people who function in the space of flows. The first is the one that the author has put forward, and emphasised in the last couple of paragraphs of the text, which revolves around the idea that the elites establish “their own society”. That the resultant position that society finds itself in was planned out and intended and actually created by the artist that is the “elite”. The view argues a certain intent from the part of the global elites, the result being their seclusion from the majority of society and their ever growing influence on the direction of it.
      The second theory challenges the first and suggests a more organic, evolutionary series of events over a relatively long period of time that through the natural development of the western world and the growing divide between rich and poor and between the elite (controlling) and those being controlled a certain condition has been reached in which we find ourselves today. This theory suggests far less initial intent and instead an exploitation by the “elite” of the position that he happens to find himself in as a result of an evolutionary growth of societal conditions leading up to the now.

    • Arno Peiser s210015721

      In present time we find ourselves living in the network society, also known as the “space of flows”. This space is the globalization of media through an interconnected internal series of frameworks and ideologies set up by the social elites (who owns great economic power) and is trying to control the local people who lives in the “space of place” made up of historically shaped traditional habits and architectural identity.

      The elites’ instrument is the already overpowering “space of flows” which is creating a monotonous world and is in progress of overwriting the values of place, here architecture becomes abstract and unrecognizable, not belonging to a place, but could be erected anywhere on the earth and lasts forever in its timeless time . Le Corbusier’s attempt to create a laid out plan for the new city that looks like a computer grid can be seen as architecture belonging to the “space of flows” and will end the same as the famous Pruitt Igoe example. Herewith the making of place is crucial in our local societies, where architects must understand the influence of the “space of flows” and its universal goal.

    • Philip Skein 210015128

      Modern man had for some time believed that technology has set him free from a direct dependence on places. The space of flows, being the dominant spatial form of modern day society has contributed greatly to this false ideology.

      As humans species we have always had natural hunger for information, and living in the digital age has increased the efficiency in which we now satisfy that need. We have however, under the social ideals imprinted on us by the agents of ‘the space of flows’, lost the deeper sense of information as a carrier of emotion and meaning. Places that use to have meaning as space for meaningful interaction and sharing of knowledge are becoming fragmented and lost within the new governing spatial mode that is the space of flows. A Heightened awareness of time has dominated our way of living and altered the spatial dynamics within the network , playing right into the hands(wallets) of the social elites governing our society today. This illusion portrayed to us by the elites has seen to the extinction of places that once held meaning in providing people with a sense of orientation and identification within the city. These spaces of place are crudely contradicted by a different spatial mode that can be seen as product of purposeful social practice of modern society. Man feels no identification in these spaces, as they are completely practical in nature. He simply gets along without experiencing any deeper spatial connection to history, culture or…

    • 211089230

      The space of flow seems to be based upon the ideologies of modernism, a utopia cleansed from its historical social regional debt. It seeks to create a more unified world, and the medium for this is via creating an architecture and mind-set which is familiar/constant throughout. This reminds me of an advert I saw the other day on TV, of a foreign (African) girl in a new country and new school, she could hardly relate nor understand anything of that country (China) , up until she was invited by her class mate to KFC where she became comfortable and they became friends. Although the commercial was promoting a capitalistic notion based on consumption it highlighted an unavoidable fact, of that globalisation is beneficial in setting out common ground in which people of different nations can familiarise themselves with .
      With the ever growing globalization we see a large decrease in places being homogeneous, isolated and restricted to their own ways, to more heterogeneous spaces. The increase in the dependability and connectedness on various cities around the world has led to depreciation of individuality, and thus the threshold is slowly becoming finite and blurry, resulting in all places looking the same (clones) in order to accommodate more spectrums of people. Thus, in my opinion, all these major cities become common ground based upon a common agenda which is capitalism, networking, technological advancement, etc, etc
      In Castells “space of flows” he has identified three…

    • Clare Rieger s210029188

      It has struck me that the ‘Space of Flows’ is all we have become to know. The world as it stands is a giant storm, of social, political, economic and ecological proportions. The future is unforeseen but what is certain to my mind is that it won’t be like the past. All of our major resource domains such as food, water, material, energy and finance which are driven by unstable financial markets are taking the planet to the verge of chronic scarcity. From an architectural point of view my concerns are with the depleting material and energy sources within the built environment and how this is a sensitive topic in the future of buildings. It seems to me that people have become more aware of the commercialised ‘space of flows’ rather than a place of a space, the interaction with it and the understanding of who we are in a space. We have become so isolated, people are only interested in the next ‘latest edition’ to life and by which I mean anything, something better than what they already have. People don’t enjoy the present spaces and even if we have the time, todays ‘spaces’ aren’t spaces; they are more ‘convenience’ spaces. Look at the turn of the world in its Architecture, from the Hagia Sophia to the Sagrada Familia, you cannot compare the phenomenological feeling of being in the Sagrada Familia opposed to modern day buildings which are designed around the ‘space of flows’. Castell, ‘We live in a complex world’.

    • Clare Rieger s210029188

      The ‘space of flows’ describes that everything is subject to mobility, meaning easier and faster. The ‘Network Society’ has put so much pressure on the human race that we have forgotten what it feel s like to be human in a space. We are continuously surrounded by technology which we rely on so much. This creates a class such as the ‘social elites’, which to my mind everyone wants to be, but what does that really mean? Is it really what it seems to be? My argument is that it is a candy coated lifestyle created by the Network society and acts as a catalyst in the ‘space of flows’. So much information, but how much do we really know? The irony of it all is that the internet is bringing people closer together virtually but the physical nature is lost, Castell refers it to ‘crisis of communication’. My question is, how will we confront the reality of scarcity? How can we resist the ‘Space of flows’?

    • Awwal Elabor s209039098

      The high-level cultural abstraction of space and time, derive from space of flows, is more relevant today than any other, this is due to its dynamic interaction with digital age society, and as we know society today is connected by lines of digital connectors, however space of flows is more expansive than simply the connection via electronic space, technological infrastructure of information systems, telecommunications, and transportation lines. As architects we know space as a passive entity, while time is the inverse giving an active entity, consider this example, the date of your 21st birthday, the space that incubates the activity, is never changing, thus is passive in its nature, the time is created by the active involvement for the user of the space to create a particular environment for a specific period, this conditions are traditional in the formalization, space of flow differs and considers “ three elements namely: (i) a proper flow medium, (ii) the proper items composing the flow traversing through it, and (iii) the organisational nodes through

    • Awwal Elabor s209039098

      …which these flows circulate (Stadler, p. 3)”, the connectors that stretch users reach in a global relation through information. Consider this example, Once again I’ll use the 21st birthday analogy, consider yourself entering the space hosting the event on time and smartly dressed, before even entering the space, there is a connection that follows you were ever you go, this being the social network, one single attribute of space of flows. Space of flows clarifies the connections we create on a global scale through information media and technology, at any moment we can connect to anyone on the other side of the world through diverse mediums, this in itself becomes…

    • Awwal Elabor s209039098

      …a spatial incubator for space and time to exist, making our world that much smaller.
      I enjoyed the statement “Articulation of the elites, segmentation and disorganization of the masses seem to be the twin mechanisms of social domination in our societies. Space plays a fundamental role in this mechanism. In short: elites are cosmopolitan, people are local.” I believe division in any society is inevitable, you will find your nobles and then you will have your peasants; this hierarchy creates an order of command and chain. However it would be narrow minded to believe a structure that levels the plane does not exist. Truly the ‘space of power and wealth is projected throughout the world while people’s life and experience is rooted in places, in their culture, in their history.’ article is very insightful

    • s210045736

      Spaces that we live in are all unique, it is defined by its character and nature that it resides in. in the past communications has been the main source of interlinking. It’s now moved to something a little complicated and technologically driven. We are starting to lose a sense of place within our community as, through the integration of technology and todays everyday fast living, we soon start to loose cultural, social and traditional sense of the world we live in, as a universal language starts to grow among all of these aspects, where everyone has a phone or some means of technology that makes the world just that much more connected. This loss of culture and idea of a postmodern life style almost starts to feel cold and machine like in its disconnection with time and place.
      The Space of flow, is suggestive of the capitalist and market driven contemporary cultures that surround us. technology, Capital, information, images, sounds and symbols. These all bring about layers of interconnection and different spaces or given them to be the way they are.On my understanding of the 3 layers discussed, the first speaks of a technology and the way its condensed our everyday lifestyle, yet made it really large at the same time. No longer are the worlds divided by two sides of the west and east but rather more connected than ever before and we can only predict that the future this will be standardized. E.g. a global currency

    • s210045736

      continued>>> The 2nd layer speaks of nodes and hubs that happen within the hustle of spaces. These spaces are seen as special or place of activity, and are set aside from the fast pace of today. They hold very specific functions and have hierarchal spaces in a weighted system. The 3rd speaks of a social elite, a user seen above the everyday man and they set up a certain lifestyle governed by a certain standard or means of living. Space plays an important fundamental role in the system and people have become used to almost a standardization of good lifestyle, while the people that are local and not elite, are forced into almost another acceptable standard of living by the elite to always have himself higher.Finally I feel that this leaves us with the challenge of us trying to be unique in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.

    • jared paiva s210015543

      Castell states contemporary society is articulated through “flows”, these flows being “the expression of processes dominating our economic, political, and symbolic life”
      Our generation live in a new kind of society, the ‘network society’. The main concern of our generation has changed from that of previous ones, we moving away from the traditional sense of space making, and are caught up in the interaction of the digital age where we can create digital avatars, and create a virtual reality, information has become so easily available, (with more people having access to mobile phones than working toilets), when international travel takes just a few hours. The world isn’t as big as it once was; we are surrounded by technology which we have become dependent on. It has both its advantages and disadvantages, we are more connected with global information, however we are beginning to lose connection with the space of place.
      There is a need for people stop and realize dehumanization of spaces, there is a loss of physical interaction. We are leading toward a globalised, universal condition, a society around placeless mega-cities, dominated by the economic and politically driven cosmopolitan elites. This is creating a people to lose touch with the local humanized place in the traditional sense. The elites occupy leading positions in our societies; creating a society that is disproportionately “organised around the dominant interests specific to each social structure”.

    • champollion hieroglyphics

      This is because pinterest has been unable to retain the exclusive rights to the lucrative feature.
      Pinterest can also function as an application for
      Facebook in which individuals can “pin” a photo on their Facebook to link to their personal Pinterest account.
      So what is this hype all about, and how can this marketing tool benefit you.

    • Siyabulela Njikelana 209001150

      The place of flows is ephemeral. It is virtual. It is placeless and insulated from any context! It is digital and may be out of sync with the analog classes of the masses. Perhaps its most powerful potential is that it has begun to shape the way a few perceive and will continue to envision the world. What is important to note is that these are the very few that the masses have always looked to for some sense of direction because, they are the ones who are ‘educated’. Therefore, they still have a strong influence. I am not arguing that technology is only accessible to the elite nor the educated. But I am saying it is dominated by them and the direction of its development and the manner in which it will continue to influence societies, will be driven by the interests of this few. Perhaps Castell is identifying or informing us of the existence of such a moment in time when some have the tools to use certain flows and exchanges to shape places.

      I think that is key, to note the important role played by time due to the virtual nature of this place of flows. Thus the place of flows is driven by the existence of exchange. Where there is no process taking place, it ceases to exist or perhaps to function? Yes…Here is a thought: “process taking place”. Try and unpack that statement. Perhaps it could sum up the whole theory. I’d title my opinion with something like: “The place of flows…the moment in time where process takes place”

    • Inka Niedermeier s211133175

      Two things came to mind while reading this article: Ayn Rand’s themes about morality in Atlas Shrugged, and my “twenty-something generation”.

      From my understanding, the article has a negative undertone towards technology’s influence on society, since it seems to be a tool for the system of the “space of flows” used by the “social elites”. I have always felt more “at home” in the natural environment, but I will not deny that I enjoy my Smart Phone, but in my opinion, social networks (and the cyber world) reflect the universal morals we value. Or what are the morals we value – if any? To me it represents a society that values superficiality, close mindedness, hypocrisy, manipulation and mediocrity. Is this what is encouraged by the capitalist market? Could we not use these tools of technology and social media to rather spread worthwhile knowledge? To encourage critical thinking.

    • N. van Jaarsveld s211089621

      The ‘space that flows’
      It can be understood that the space of flows are not bind to one kind of ‘flow’, but as stated in the article as “flows” of various kinds. Space of flow is experienced by everyone everywhere, without thinking of it or being conscious about it. Space of flow would firstly be thought of as movement of space or more than one space that are inter-connected. Society is very much depended on technology and since nothing exists by itself, the processes are a continuous flow through several elements and technology makes it easier for the happening and the so called ‘exchange’ of various flows. A highlight for me on flows as well as socio-spatial partitions shows how such immensely different ‘worlds’ where space is a universal element (in literal terms, )can function like a body, unknowing of each other’s actions, but still working as a hole. This statement: “reconceptualize new forms of spatial arrangements under the new technological paradigm”; a new type of space that allows distant synchronous, real-time interaction. (Castells, p. 146) just proofs again that society strives for universal and unlimited interaction and those spatial arrangements will forever continue and change.

    • A. Mboyi 208075661

      Thanks to “space of places”, Castells (2010: Chapter 6, Section 5) which is replaced by “space of slows” – one can put material definitions (here coined as materials layers) to the practical ideas that pivot the theory. A generalised (lamens) understanding of each would sum up the layers as 1. A natural (or rather techno-organic) establishment of interactions that end up shaping the social realm that will house these interactions 2. the clusters created in this realm – realm used very loosely as it is infact an idea of the real world, the one we live in. 3. George Orwells book: “Animal Farm” provides a quote – “Some animals are more equal than others”, this quote embodies the ideas encapsulated in the 3rd material layer – which is the establishment of an elite that create it’s own tier at which to sit. A tier only the alike should be familiar with. Therefore the material layers tie together in the formation of these hubs/nodes – the second layer, the natural flows created by even the most techno – centric or consumer driven society is still at the mercy of either a silent or loud elite.This elite may grow out of a unique social fabric (built) but will always seek to create a platform where only the more equal may feel comfortable & in turn – only the elite may operate. This take on the space of flows – though a simpler understanding of an abstraction that could span a lifetime – is a take on the world we live in.The Electric Generation, though ‘open source’…

    • A. Mboyi 208075661

      … has an Elite.

    • Mandla Mawela(208090359)

      Firstly let me start by men that this is quite a though-provoking phenomena, but funny enough as foreign as it is to my understanding of space I am able to identify myself with the ‘space of flows’.

      But what is space? Is it static and always there, or is it ‘produced’ by movement and by construction? Is it three-dimensional as we commonly understand it, or is Time also part of the equation, as Einstein and the physicists after him have proposed – giving us notions of ‘spacetime’? Is it measurable, or is space itself a measure? Is it a conceptual framework, or does it have its own ontology – its own nature of being and existence? Is space a perception? Can it be owned or, what do we really own when a ‘space’ is ours?

      These are not my questions; they have been, for centuries, part of the philosophical and scientific discourse about space. They make it clear at once that space and spatiality – or spatial property – are complex and multi-layered; space of place and space which flows claim to share is not only physical, for there is more to space than we see in its physicality.

      A space with which we are all increasingly familiar with is the hypertext environment of the World Wide Web, more commonly known as cyberspace or virtual reality. Interestingly, we see the web as having spatiality even though it does not possess the volume duality – positive and negative – of physical space. It is a space which is architecturally manipulated, designed, to create…

    • Bryce Henderson 211067148

      We live in a world which is slowly becoming void to its rationalistic and cultural identities. The days where man and society communicated on an equal less selfish basis are gone, the ‘Space of flows’ has replaced the traditional ‘Space of places‘. Things outside architecture influence how we think, our hopes and desires. Globalization has an influential effect on ‘placelessness’, with the increase in technology – standardization and production brought about a loss of the individual identity and symbolism. The freedom of cyberspace allows us the opportunity to create and play someone we want to be, someone other than ourselves. We can immerse ourselves in another era thus removing us from reality and the world we live in. With the loss of traditional society as a whole, the contemporary society has categorized itself into classes. ‘Elites have created a culturally distinctive lifestyle with the intention of unifying the spatial environments of the elites globally’. The new social ‘elites’ form a cosmopolitan society where the luxuries from around the world are provided in increasingly similar manners no matter where you are situated. (Hotel groups all similar all over the world). Thus elites have a standardized ‘space of flow’ no matter where you are in the world.

    • Dale Warburton 209091184

      To me for one to understand the notion of a change or move from one state of spatial type ‘space of place’ to another ‘space of flows’, is easier to comprehend when you realise it is simply a consciousness towards the change in the status quo. One thing no one can deny is that the world is not that same as it was yesterday, let alone a generation ago.

      Humans have moved from various states to various states of existential existance from I can only assume the beginning of their existence. To be more specific people have existed in a particular paradigm and continue to progress onwards until something caused a shift to alter that paradigm, if still unclear, ill try to be more culture specific. ‘Net blankes’. Now I’m complicating things by using an analogy and a different language and a controversial topic, if my earlier comment on existence wasn’t controversial enough.

      Our cultural paradigm has shifted to a commercialist, capitalist, greedy, power hungry and above all a MONEY focused culture! these are the shifters currently in effect and must be considered, as the further down the rabbit hole we go the harder it will be to get back up.

      An attitude towards how we want to define ourselves is what needs to be done. not weather or not it is changing how we once were. Instead we must consider how we want it to change us and what we can do to shift the paradigm to a more traditional notion of what a humane culture should reflect.

      “We are our choices.”