Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society

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

Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society

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 CastellsShoshana ZuboffEva IllouzNick Couldry and Iyad Rahwan.


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 work of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) focuses on promoting awareness of democracy and political participation. It addresses current and historical topics with events, publications and online offerings. The broad range of educational offerings is intended to motivate and enable citizens to critically engage with political and social issues and to actively participate in political life. The experiences with dictatorial forms of rule in German history have given the Federal Republic of Germany a special responsibility to consolidate values such as democracy, pluralism and tolerance in the minds of the population.

It fulfils its task in its own socio-political, educational and journalistic responsibility. It is non-partisan and academically balanced. As an institution of state-based political education, it also sponsors events organised by more than 300 recognised educational institutions, foundations and non-governmental organisations active in political education in the Federal Republic of Germany.


Katrin Werner | Tel. +49 30 200 760 82 |