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Redenreihe_FR1_01 Castells – 16zu9

Manuel Castells: Power and counter-power in the digital society

How is power constituted in the digital society? Who is powerful – and how can power be countered and contested? The advent of digitally networked technologies has long been thought to foster democratisation and emancipation, to empower people that have previously been marginalised and neglected. Today, we know that the story is more complex: only a few companies dominate the internet ecosystem, democratic uprisings like the much-cited “Arab Spring” have faced severe repressions.

Already with his highly influential trilogy The Information Age, Manuel Castells has highlighted the ambiguities of this development. Traditional forms of power might erode, but new, distributed forms of power emerge, Castells argued back then. In this lecture, he revisited the development of the last 20 years and explained the re-distribution of power and counter-power in the digital society.

Photos: © Mathias Völzke/HIIG

Manuel Castells is Professor of Sociology, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), in Barcelona. He is as well University Professor and the Wallis Annenberg Chair Professor of Communication Technology and Society at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He has authored 26 books, including the trilogy The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture, 1996-2003, published by Blackwell and translated in 23 languages. This trilogy is probably the most-influential piece of academic work addressing the transformation of contemporary society in the context of the Internet.


18:30Doors open
19:00 – 19:15Welcome and introduction
Petra Grün (bpb)
Jeanette Hofmann (HIIG)
19:15 – 20:00Power and counter-power in the digital society
Manuel Castells (University of Catalonia / University of Southern California)
20:00 – 21:00Moderated conversation and questions from the Audience
21:00 – 22:00Get-together

The event was held in English and translated simultaneously into German.

Making sense of the digital society

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb) are organising an academic lecture series on Making sense of the digital society. The high-profile series thrives to develop a European perspective on the processes of transformation that our societies are currently undergoing. Starting with an inaugural lecture by Manuel Castells on December 12, 2017 the series will continue throughout 2018. Further confirmed speakers are Marion Fourcade, professor of sociology at the UC Berkeley, Christoph Neuberger, professor of communication studies at the LMU München, Elena Esposito, Professor for Sociology at University of Bielefeld and University of Modena-Reggio Emilia, and José van Dijck, author of the forthcoming book The Platform Society and president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Event date

12.12.2017 | 7.00 pm – 10.00 pm ical | gcal


Kino International,  Karl-Marx-Allee 33,  10178 Berlin


Christian Grauvogel

Former Head of Dialogue & Knowledge Transfer | Project Coordinator SET


This high-profile lecture series thrives to develop a European perspective on the processes of transformation that our societies are currently undergoing.


Once a month we publicly discuss the impact of digitalisation on the society. Therefore we invite special guests and engage in a dialogue with the audience.


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