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By Manuel Castells

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We proceed otherwise: we start from hypotheses concerning the structural arrangement of the laws of the capitalist mode of production in several phases and stages of development of this mode, and at several levels (economic, political, ideological), and in specific historical periods- which it is also necessary to take account of. Thus it is not a matter of finding a 'moral responsibility' for all social inequalities, but of studying the validity and the transformation of the social laws which have been established up to this point by research, by specifying them and modifying them if new observations require this.

20 Since 1974 the world economic crisis and the internal political divisions in the dominant classes exacerbate the general crisis of the system, which faces a contradictory double-bind: that of having simultaneously to reinforce exploitation (to re-establish the profit level) and to assure social integration (to re-establish political and ideological hegemony). The rapidity of capitalist growth, on the basis furnished by the state during the first period, profoundly transformed production relations.

Such 'inequalities' among social groups are not entirely autonomous of the Collective Consumption 35 class system since the logic of the latter determines the organisation of consumption, but the positions defined in the specific structure of inequality do not correspond in a one-to-one fashion to the structure of class relationships. It is in this sense that there is specific production of new effects of $Ocial inequality. Furthermore, at a certain level it can be said that the ensemble of social groups are caught in the 'problems' (bottlenecks or contradictions) created by collective consumption and, in this light, if there is not equalisation in the result experienced, there is, in fact, a relationship which is not antagonistic between the agents but rather partakes (differentially, surely) of the same difficulties.

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