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The critical infrastructure of democracy: lecture series “Making Sense of the Digital Society” continues

03 March 2021

Berlin, 3 March 2021 – Political parties and free media are essential for the proper functioning of representative democracies. For some time now, however, these institutions have been subject to major structural change. As part of the series Making Sense of the Digital Society, Jan-Werner Müller discusses what the changes in this critical infrastructure mean for the effective exercise of fundamental rights as well as for the relationship between citizens and the political system. We invite all interested parties to participate in the online event

On Wednesday, 9 March, from 7:00-8:30 p.m., via livestream on

Jan-Werner Müller is Professor for Politics at Princeton University. He is co-founder of the European College of Liberal Arts. His essay “What is populism?” has been translated into numerous languages and is considered a central work for understanding contemporary political developments. Currently, Müller is developing a reassessment of intermediary institutions in democracy and will present this analysis in the lecture on 9 March 2021. In his speech, he will offer an account of the distinctive role of intermediary institutions that goes beyond standard claims of “connecting citizens to the political system”: What normative criteria can be used to adequately assess the functioning of intermediary powers?

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) are therefore continuing the lecture series Making Sense of the Digital Society, which was launched in 2017. Digitalisation raises fundamental questions for the digital society: issues of  power and inequality, democracy and the public sphere, infrastructures and platforms. To better understand the current transformation and shape a common future, we need comprehensive explanations. Leading European intellectuals are invited to speak at the event. Previous guests in the series have included Manuel Castells, Shoshana Zuboff, Eva Illouz, Nick Couldry and Iyad Rahwan.

Press contact: Katrin Werner | Tel. +49 30 200 760 82 | 

Further information: Event page | Lecture series

About HIIG

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) researches the development of the internet from a societal perspective in order to better understand the associated digitalisation of all areas of life. As the first research institute in Germany with a focus on internet and society, HIIG has developed an understanding that emphasises the embedding of digital innovations in societal processes. Based on this transdisciplinary expertise and as part of the Global Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers, HIIG wants to develop a European response to digital structural change.

HIIG was founded in 2011 by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU), the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, together with the Leibniz Institute for Media Research/Hans Bredow Institute (HBI) Hamburg as an integrated cooperation partner. The institute’s research directors are Prof. Dr. Jeanette Hofmann, Prof. Dr. Björn Scheuermann, Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Schildhauer and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz.

About bpb

The Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb) is a public institution that promotes democratic awareness and political participation. Its various activities and publications cover a broad range of current and historical issues in the field of politics, economy, and society. In its daily work bpb provides timely and sound information and debates via its website and social media services. 

bpb’s mission is to motivate people and enable them to give critical thought to political and social issues and play an active part in political and social life. Considering Germany’s experience with various forms of dictatorship down through its history, the Federal Republic of Germany bears a unique responsibility for firmly anchoring values such as democracy, pluralism and tolerance in the people’s minds.

Katrin Werner

Former Coordinator for Science Communication and Fundraising

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