For students of urban politics, the work of Manuel Castells has been a seminal influence for a period spanning two decades. His ideas on the definition of the subject field and content of the urban system and process have provoked the most important and far-ranging debate since urban studies first reached maturity as a distinct discipline in the work of the ‘Chicago School’ of sociologists in the 1920s. There are, of course, many other contributors to the new urban politics field, but Castells’s texts are both qualitatively and quantitatively the most significant. Not all his material is available in English translation, and the review of his work in this chapter is limited to the articles and books that are more readily available to English readers. In addition, the philosophical genesis of Castells’s original position has been more than adequately discussed elsewhere (Saunders, 1981).
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