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Castells wins international Balzan Prize for Sociology

Manuel Castells of USC Annenberg is one of four winners of the 2013 Balzan Prize for Sociology.

University Professor Manuel Castells of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has received the 2013 Balzan Prize for Sociology, an international accolade that comes with an award of 750,000 Swiss Francs, or roughly $800,000.

“This is a great and unexpected honor that surprised me and pleased me very much, mainly for two reasons,” he said. “The first is that it is rare that major scientific prizes that relate to all fields of science include sociology. The second is that this is a special prize because one of its provisions is that half of the monetary amount of the award has to be used for research conducted primarily by young researchers under the direction of the laureate. And this is exactly what I intend to do.”

According to a press release by the Balzan Prize Foundation, Castells was chosen “for his wide-ranging and imaginative thinking [about] the implications of the great technological changes of our time: the digital revolution and the profound social and political challenges brought about by the emerging technologies of communication and information processing associated with computing, microelectronics and the Internet. And for having proposed a general theory of the new global information society that has arisen out of these techniques.”

Established in 1957, the Balzan Foundation aims to recognize “the most outstanding initiatives of peace and brotherhood among peoples and foster their growth in the scientific and cultural world.”

Castells, holder of the Wallis Annenberg Chair in Communication Technology and Society, is one of four winners for the year. Recipients must dedicate half of the award money to financing research projects that the foundation prefers are carried out by young scholars or scientists.

The categories for the prize rotate every year, and Castells will be the first recipient in the sociology category since 2003, according to the foundation’s press release.

“It is gratifying to know that this prestigious award is recognizing the work of our colleague and friend Manuel Castells,” said Larry Gross, vice dean of USC Annenberg and director of the School of Communication. “We are all basking in his reflected glory, and we are delighted that the quality and importance of his work has been recognized once again on the international stage.

Castells has received many awards, including last year’s Holberg International Memorial Prize from the Norwegian parliament. His expertise in communications has earned him, among other distinguished awards, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Spain’s National Prize of Sociology and Political Science, the Erasmus Medal of Science from the Academia Europaea, the Robert and Helen Lynd Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association for his contribution to community and urban sociology, and the Oxford Internet Institute Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is the author of 26 academic books and the editor or co-author of 22 additional books, as well as more than 100 articles in academic journals.

He has been knighted for cause of scientific merit by the governments of France (Order of Arts and Letters), Finland (Order of the Lion of Finland), Chile (Order of Gabriela Mistral), Portugal (Order of Santiago de la Espada), and Catalonia (Cross of Saint George), and has done pro-bono advisory work for the governments of many countries and global commissions.

Castells has also received numerous fellowships and honorary doctorates, served on the advisory boards of 20 academic journals and lectured in more than 300 academic institutions in 46 countries.

The ceremony for this year’s recipients will be held Nov. 15 in Berne, Switzerland. On Nov. 14, the recipients will present their research at a symposium.

Manuel Castells will host a USC Annenberg event on Sept. 16 focusing on The Moral Crisis of China, which will be open to USC faculty and graduate students.

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Castells wins international Balzan Prize for Sociology

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