Research on internet and digitalisation

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) researches the development of the internet from a societal perspective. The aim is to better understand the digitalisation of all spheres of life. As the first institute in Germany with a focus on internet and society, HIIG has established an understanding that emphasises the embeddedness of digital innovations in societal processes.


A better understanding of digital society

Drawing on the scientific competencies brought together at the institute, HIIG makes substantive contributions to our understanding of the relationship between innovation and governance in the digital society. It is about the realisation and change of social values and norms, for example in the development of technologies and business models, but also about the question of how this can be done in an innovation-friendly way.

Alexander von Humboldt was once called the greatest “scientific traveller of all times”. As a pioneer of interdisciplinary research and intellectual father of the Enlightenment, today he serves as a role model for the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin. Until his death, he worked tirelessly on his book Cosmos, which is his attempt to explain the whole world. HIIG has taken on a research subject of similar proportions: society in the digital age.


Researching the digitalisation from a societal perspective

The institute fulfills this function in a distinctive way: we use institutional support to develop open and flexible projects. Programmatic research questions give structure to this work and enable a strategic research orientation. HIIG offers the pioneering thinkers of the digital society the opportunity to set the agenda early on and to create networks. We promote unconventional approaches and are open to ideas from all parts of society. HIIG builds interdisciplinary bridges instead of faculty boundaries.

Research network

European hub for an international research network

In order to achieve its goals, the institute sees itself as a node in an international network of knowledge production and distribution. With this in mind, it invites established thinkers to give lectures on current structural change and offers young researchers an incubator. The institute facilitates the international networking of researchers in order to increase collaboration in science and exploit the potential of such collaborations. For HIIG, the European perspective is central to this process of boosting the quality of debates, both locally and globally.

The results should be plausible and usable for different target groups. The impact HIIG aims to achieve is based on excellent, socially relevant interdisciplinary research. We realise this through transfer services such as online magazines, science blogs, public discussion rounds, media contributions and podcasts.

Technological development reflects norms, values, interests and contested or controversial ideas about the world and influences all of them equally. The institute thus proceeds from an understanding that societal processes construct knowledge, rules, social cohesion or markets; it does not conceive of technological development as a “force of nature”.