Castells affirms that "there is no one model" for democracy, but rather "human beings in search of their humanity"

La UAB investeix Manuel Castells com a doctor 'honoris causa'

Professor in sociology at the Open University of Catalonia Manel Castells was awarded an honorary doctorate by the UAB after being proposed for the award by the Faculty of Communication Studies. His acceptance speech reflected upon the causes behind the current democratic crisis.

19/12/2017

Manuel Castells was awarded an honorary doctorate by the UAB in a ceremony in which he lectured on the crisis of democracy. For the sociologist, "democracy, like dignity, does not consist in procedures, but rather in the defense of basic human rights" according to the circumstances of each place and time.

The professor in sociology at the Open University of Catalonia was presented by one of his sponsors, Joan Manuel Tresserras (who together with second sponsor Enric Marín are both professors of the Department of Media, Communication and Culture), who described him as "the author with most influence in the past twenty years on critical theory, particularly in the communication sector". Tresserras, who spoke on his academic trajectory, qualified him as "fundamental intellectual in very decisive moments".

Reformulating democracy

In his acceptance speech, Castells offered "some conclusions and ideas" about his current research work, in reference to what he describes as a "centre of conflicts and contradictions of our chaotic world"; in other words, the crisis of democracy. The sociologist disserted on the crisis of the legitimacy of representative democracy and the social origins of the crisis (such as a lack of separation of powers, the fact that politics focuses largely on the media and the perception of corruption as a generalised phenomenon).

The new honorary doctor also spoke on the attempt to "reformulate democracy", both in the sense of reforming representative democracy (controlling the influence of money on politics, imcreasing the proportionality of representation systems and democratising political parties) and in proposing alternatives such as participative democrary, e-democracy and the use of the internet. Finally, he reflected on the future of democracy based on the verification that "'dignity' is a key word pronounced by all of the recent social movements". For Dr Castells, "the institutions of dignity must be built by human subjects each with their specific and personal circumstances". And he continued: "the demos, each one of the multiple demos, will be the ones to decide their own cracy".

Independence of universities

In her closing speech, UAB Rector Margarita Arboix praised Castells "great analytical capacity" and transferred his reflections to the university's reality. She defended the independence of universities to define their form of governance because "we must be capable of thinking out the best structures and systems of management" in order to have a government which "adapts to the democratic and representative commitments" characteristic of an institution such as the UAB.

The performance of the UAB Choir, which interpreted folk singer Raimon's song D'un temps, d'un país and the theme Universitas by Poire Vallvé and Rafel Simó accompanied the ceremony in which many academic and institutional authorities attended, such as the Dean of the Faculty of Communication Studies María José Recoder; UOC Rector Josep A. Planell; and former President of the Catalan Parliament Ernest Benach.


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