Today I was talking with Coops, one of the spirit guides aiding me on the dreamquest of getting a Ph.D. I was trying to persuade him that Manuel Castell’s idea of the network society is in important ways different from what Braudel and Wallerstein say about the world system.
Coop told me about Janet Abu-Lughod’s book “Before European Hegemony
The World System A.D. 1250-1350” and Andre Gunder Frank’s new book “ReORIENT” and I went out and bought them right after, but continued to press my case.
Let us not contest that the world economy is Silk Road era news, but the network society is something different because technological networks make it possible for social forces to organize on “a planetary scale in real time.”
And if you say that’s only a quantitative difference I say it’s so many orders of magnitude more of the same that it becomes radically different. So, if Abu-Lughod is correct and the roots of the force that remade the world, aka capitalism, lie earlier and in Asia, then that’s 1.0. Next there’s the whole familiar story that Eric Wolf told so well of capitalism 2.0, and then post-industrialism is 3.0, which brings us to 4.0 and that’s when Coop broke in with the line “now with more less tradition.”