Holberg Prize 2012

Social Scientist wins Holberg Prize

Manuel Castells has been awarded the Holberg International Memorial Award for 2012, whereas Sara Hobolt of the University of Oxford receives the Nils Klim Prize for 2012.

Manuel Castells
Manuel Castells has been awarded the Holberg International Memorial Prize 2012.
Maggie Smith

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Manuel Castells is Professor in Communication Technology and Society at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, and is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and Research Professor at the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona. He has been awarded the Holberg International Memorial Award for 2012, according to a press release from the Holberg Prize Foundation. The prize includes 4.5 million Norwegian Kroner in award money and the prize ceremony will take place in Bergen on 6 June 2012.

The Holberg Prize was established by the Norwegian parliament Stortinget in 2003 to promote Social Sciences, the Humanities, Law Studies and Theology Studies. The University of Bergen (UiB) is the host institution for the prize.


Urbanisation and media technology

In particular, the Holberg Prize’s Academic Committee emphasise Castell’s contribution to creating new understanding.

Manuel Castells is the leading sociologist of the city and new information and media technologies. His ideas and writings have shaped our understanding of the political dynamics of urban and global economies in the network society, the committee argue in their explanation for awarding the prize to Castells.

«He has illuminated the underlying power structures of the great technological revolutions of our time and their consequences. He has helped us to understand how social and political movements have co-evolved with the new information technologies.»

In a press statement from the Holberg Prize, Castells’ trilogy, The Information Age, is described as offering «a comprehensive theory of the global information-based society, associated with urban networks and media communications.  His theoretical insights are grounded in continuing empirical research into the societal and technological transformations associated with media power. His most recent work, Communication Power, is an innovative analysis of the ways in which new media technologies can enable challenges to the concentration of media power, thus reconfiguring the political sphere.

Castells has taken thinking about «the political» to an entirely new level through his prescient account of the emergence of and interaction between new forms of power in the age of the network society, the committee conclude.»

Castells was born in Spain in 1942 and grew up in Valencia and Barcelona. He studied law and economics at the University of Barcelona and in Paris. He got his doctorate of Social Studies and Humanities at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and moved to the United States in 1979.


Nils Klim Prize to Danish researcher

29-year old Sara Binzer Hobolt has been awarded the Nils Klim Award for researchers under the age of 35. The prize is for 250.000 Norwegian Kroner and the award ceremony also takes place on 6 June in Bergen. Hobolt is from Denmark and currently holds the Sutherland Chair in European Institutions at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is fellow at the Nuffield College in Oxford and also has an Honorary Professorship at the University of Southern Denmark.

In the citation for the Nils Klim Prize the Academic Committee writes:

«Sara Hobolt’s research covers a wide range of key issues in studies of comparative politics: European integration, elections and referendums, but also the interaction between media, processes of opinion formation and responsiveness and responsibility of political elites and party systems. She combines the use of methods at the cutting edge of quantitative empirical methodology with an interest in such crucial questions as the nature and direction of development of national political systems as well as of the entire process of European integration. She systematically links empirical analysis to critical concerns in theory building about contemporary political systems at large. She brings out a wealth of data about opinion formation, governance and the conditions for democratic policy making, drawn from the European scene. Thereby she has enabled a more well-informed discussion about representation, elections and democracy than has previously been the case. Sara Hobolt’s scholarly achievements have helped to deepen and enrich, not only in empirical but also in conceptual terms, our understanding of the basic conditions of modern democracies.»


More information about the prize and this year’s prizewinners at the Holberg Prize homepage.