The Holberg Prize interview with Manuel Castells

You have a comprehensive bibliography with a wide variety of topics on your CV. When you look back, what themes do you look upon as most important?
My analysis of power. This has been the overarching theme I have studied in my works, in many contexts and in different domains of society. Power in the city. Power in and by information technology. Power in globalization. Communication power, that is the power and counterpower built in the media and in the Internet networks. In terms of specific themes I think that what will remain from my work is to have been able to map out economies, societies and culture at the dawn of the information age, coining the concept of the network society as a key thread to understand the transformations brought about by the digital revolution in interaction with the culture of autonomy, and the globalization of the economy.

What topics concern you today?
The role of digital communication technologies in social movements and emerging forms of political democracy. The social implications of the next generation of communication technologies. The cultural and social analysis of the financial crisis.

What role or function do you think social sciences should play in the 21st century?
To provide an independent, methodologically rigorous and theoretically relevant assessment of the new social processes currently making people’ lives in a whirlwind of fast social and technological change, ill understood, that induces a condition of bewilderment and insecurity in many persons.

Do you have any knowledge about the research of social sciences in Scandinavia?
Certainly, I have been travelling regularly to Scandinavia since 1967, I am a honorary doctor of the Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology, and a honorary doctor of Helsinki University of Technology, I have researched on Finland and published a book about it, I have lectured in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, I have had doctoral students from all these countries, and I have many good colleagues and very close friends in Finland and Sweden.

What is your view on international research prizes like the Holberg Prize?
They play a crucial role in acknowledging the work of researchers who devote themselves primarily to science, thinking, and cultural innovation without yielding to the usual powers and temptations in business and in politics. They represent a substantial stimulus to the pursuit of intellectual creativity that is the lever of progress for humanity.