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Article
Publication date: 5 July 2022

Zita Wahyu Larasati, Tauchid Komara Yuda and Akbarian Rifki Syafa'at

The penetration of technology and the strengthening of evidence-based policies have paved the way for the automated delivery of social services. This study aims to discuss…

Abstract

Purpose

The penetration of technology and the strengthening of evidence-based policies have paved the way for the automated delivery of social services. This study aims to discuss the inherent risks of this automatization, particularly those associated with the discrimination, exclusion and inequality problem, which the authors package under the theoretical umbrella of a digital welfare state (DWS).

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual article reviews the literature on the welfare DWS, with an empirical focus on the recent experience of selected countries from India, Kenya and Sweden. These countries reflect three different types of welfare regimes but are connected by the same digital social risk. The authors’ exploration also includes questions about what this DWS has in common with and how it differs from the previous era. This article illustrates that there has been a very similar trajectory in regards to the development of the DWS and the associated risks in the examined countries.

Findings

DWS has triggered new social risks (e.g. discrimination, exclusion and inequality in welfare access) that are a result of data breaches experienced by citizens. Further, vulnerable groups in the digital age should be viewed not only as those who lack access to welfare services, such as education, health and employment, but also as those without internet access, without digital skills and excluded from the DWS system.

Originality/value

The article calls for the development of scholarly research into the DWS in particular and the contemporary one in general. The authors also predict that a critical aspect of the future regime typology rests in the ability to mobilize resources to address contemporary digital risks, as every country is equally vulnerable to them. Overall, this article can be considered to be one of the initial works that focus on cross-national comparison across different meta-welfare regimes.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 6 December 2021

Rachael Kent

This chapter provides a historical contextualisation of health tracking and public health communication from the post-World War Two development of the welfare state

Abstract

This chapter provides a historical contextualisation of health tracking and public health communication from the post-World War Two development of the welfare state, through the birth of neoliberalism, until today’s individualising practices of digital health tracking and quantification of bodies. Through an examination of these three phases of public health quantification of bodies, encompassing the socio-economic, cultural and political shifts since 1948, combined with the development and wide adoption of digital health and self-quantifying technologies, this chapter traces the changing landscape and the dramatic implications this has had for shifting who is responsible for maintaining ‘good’ health. This chapter illustrates how neoliberal free market principles have reigned over UK public health discourse for many decades, seeing health as no longer binary to illness, but as a practice of individual self-quantification and self-care. In turn, the chapter explores how the quantification and health tracking of bodies has become a dominant discourse in public health promotion, as well as individual citizenship and patient practices. This discourse still exists pervasively as we move into the digital society of the 2020s, through the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond; with public health strategies internationally promoting the use of digital health tools in our everyday, further positioning citizens as entrepreneurial subjects, adopting extensive technological measures in an attempt to measure and ‘optimise’ health, normalising the everyday quantification of bodies.

Details

The Quantification of Bodies in Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80071-883-8

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 23 February 2022

Peter Aagaard and John Storm Pedersen

For many years, one of the central ambitions of shifting Danish governments has been to maintain the position as an e-government frontrunner. The overall dream of…

Abstract

For many years, one of the central ambitions of shifting Danish governments has been to maintain the position as an e-government frontrunner. The overall dream of administrators has been and remains to produce personalised social services efficiently. Shifting Danish governments have followed a centralised, party-neutral and consensual path to digitalisation. The efforts have been based on a centralised civil registration number system (CPR) established in 1968. However, the quest for efficient, personalised services has also stimulated debate in Denmark as to whether the state is obtaining too much personalised information and risks violating the privacy of its own citizens. Digitalisation efforts, especially the out-of-office efforts, cannot be pushed without public legitimacy attached to the process. Furthermore, Danish legislation must be changed substantially to pave the way for the increased use of advanced digital tools. Algorithmic tools cannot be trusted to solve all tasks. These dilemmas illustrate that the days of high political consensus in the Danish digitalisation efforts may very well be over. Other countries can learn four overall lessons from the Danish experiences: (1) although a high level of digitalisation can be reached using a top-down, nonpartisan approach, digitalisation will always be political, (2) experimentation and the failures attached to digitalisation can come at a very high cost, (3) effort will benefit greatly from citizen trust, especially in out-of-office efforts and (4) the public legitimacy of digitalisation must be based on strong mechanisms of social and political accountability.

Details

Public Governance in Denmark
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-712-8

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Anja Svejgaard Pors

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of e-government reforms on street-level bureaucrats’ professionalism and relation to citizens, thus demonstrating how…

1498

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of e-government reforms on street-level bureaucrats’ professionalism and relation to citizens, thus demonstrating how the bureaucratic encounter unfolds in the digital era.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an ethnographic study of frontline work at a citizen service centre in a Danish municipality, and draws on empirical material generated through observations, field notes, interviews and policy documents.

Findings

The paper shows that e-government changes the mode of professionalism in citizen service from service to support. An ethnographic account of how digital reforms are implemented in practice shows how street-level bureaucrat’s classic tasks such as specialized casework are being reconfigured into educational tasks that promote the idea of “becoming digital”. In the paper, the author argues that the work of “becoming digital” in client processing entails two interconnected changes in frontline agents’ practice: de-specialization of the task and intensified informality in relation to citizens. As a result, the frontline agent works as an explorative generalist whose professional skills and personal competencies are blurred.

Originality/value

The study contributes to ethnographic research in public administration by combining two separate subfields, e-government and street-level bureaucracy, to discern recent transformations in public service delivery. In the digital era, tasks, control and equality are distributed in ways that call for symmetrical and relational approaches to studying street-level bureaucracy. The argument goes beyond technological or social determinism to find a fruitful intermediary position pointing at technological change as having both constraining and enabling effects.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Content available
Book part
Publication date: 6 December 2021

Abstract

Details

The Quantification of Bodies in Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80071-883-8

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 23 June 2022

Sofia Alexopoulou, Joachim Åström and Martin Karlsson

Technology access, digital skills, and digital services are increasingly prerequisites for public life and accessing public services. The digital divide in contemporary…

Abstract

Purpose

Technology access, digital skills, and digital services are increasingly prerequisites for public life and accessing public services. The digital divide in contemporary societies matters for efforts to digitalize the welfare state. Research has already mapped individual determinants of digital exclusion and the existence of an age-related digital divide. However, far less attention has been paid to variations in digital inclusion between countries and to their potential explanations related to political systems. This study explores the influence of variations in welfare regimes on the digital divide among seniors (aged 65+) in Europe.

Design/methodology/approach

This article presents time-series cross-sectional analyses of the relationship between welfare state regimes and digital inclusion among seniors in European countries. The analyses are based on data from Eurostat, the World Bank, and the UN E-Government Survey.

Findings

The authors find extensive variation in the digital inclusion of citizens between welfare regimes and argue that considering regime differences improves the understanding of these variations. The findings indicate that the age-related digital divide seems to be least evident in countries with more universalistic welfare regimes and most evident in countries where seniors rely more on their families.

Originality/value

This is the first comparative study of the association between welfare state regimes and digital inclusion among seniors.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 35 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 24 September 2018

Nicole Thualagant and Ditte-Marie From

Technologies of measurement and self-monitoring of health data have become part of a metric everyday life in Denmark. As part of a change in Nordic Welfare society, Danish…

Abstract

Technologies of measurement and self-monitoring of health data have become part of a metric everyday life in Denmark. As part of a change in Nordic Welfare society, Danish citizens are increasingly experiencing a digitisation of welfare services. This chapter explores the rationales behind the eGovernment strategy of Digital Welfare 2016–2020 in regard to health and discusses how this strategy encourages self-measurement and self-improvement through discourses of improvement at both state and citizen levels. By illustrating how performativity is embedded in current conceptions of health, this chapter emphasises how strategies of digitisation lean on a bio-citizenship where individuals with poor health capacities become dependent, not on a supporting welfare system, but paradoxically on their own self-management skills in order to receive health services. Based on the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse (SKAD) analysis, this chapter scrutinises central documents on the strategy of digital welfare. Our exploration provides a critical insight into the current digitisation of health care by illustrating how new virtues of citizenship are demanded in the digital era in relation to digital health, and furthermore represents a current challenge for Danish welfare in the schism between technology as empowering and a technocratic form of governance.

Article
Publication date: 1 April 2003

Georgios I. Zekos

Aim of the present monograph is the economic analysis of the role of MNEs regarding globalisation and digital economy and in parallel there is a reference and examination…

67599

Abstract

Aim of the present monograph is the economic analysis of the role of MNEs regarding globalisation and digital economy and in parallel there is a reference and examination of some legal aspects concerning MNEs, cyberspace and e‐commerce as the means of expression of the digital economy. The whole effort of the author is focused on the examination of various aspects of MNEs and their impact upon globalisation and vice versa and how and if we are moving towards a global digital economy.

Details

Managerial Law, vol. 45 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0558

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 22 August 2022

Mona Nikidehaghani, Jane Andrew and Corinne Cortese

The paper aims to investigate how accounting techniques, when embedded within data-driven public-sector management systems, mask and intensify the neoliberal ideological…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to investigate how accounting techniques, when embedded within data-driven public-sector management systems, mask and intensify the neoliberal ideological commitments of powerful state and corporate actors. The authors explore the role of accounting in the operationalisation of “instrumentarian power” (Zuboff, 2019) – a new form of power that mobilises ubiquitous digital instrumentation to ensure that algorithmic architectures can tune, herd and modify behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employ a qualitative archival analysis of publicly available data related to the automation of welfare-policing systems to explore the role of accounting in advancing instrumentarian power.

Findings

In exploring the automation of Australia's welfare debt recovery system (Robodebt), this paper examines a new algorithmic accountability that has emerged at the interface of government, technology and accounting. The authors show that accounting supports both the rise of instrumentarian power and the intensification of neoliberal ideals when buried within algorithms. In focusing on Robodebt, the authors show how the algorithmic reconfiguration of accountability within the welfare system intensified the inequalities that welfare recipients experienced. Furthermore, the authors show that, despite its apparent failure, it worked to modify welfare recipients' behaviour to align with the neoliberal ideals of “self-management” and “individual responsibility”.

Originality/value

This paper addresses Agostino, Saliterer and Steccolini's (2021) call to investigate the relationship between accounting, digital innovations and the lived experience of vulnerable people. To anchor this, the authors show how algorithms work to mask the accounting assumptions that underpin them and assert that this, in turn, recasts accountability relationships. When accounting is embedded in algorithms, the ideological potency of calculations can be obscured, and when applied within technologies that affect vulnerable people, they can intensify already substantial inequalities.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 9 April 2018

John Storm Pedersen and Adrian Wilkinson

The purpose of this paper is to: first, explain why a new model of the provision of welfare services to citizens arises from the digital society; second explore some core…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to: first, explain why a new model of the provision of welfare services to citizens arises from the digital society; second explore some core elements of the competition between the new model of the provision of welfare services and the classic ideal model of the professionals’ provision of welfare services; third, suggest why it is most likely that the two models of the provision of services are combined into a symbiotic co-evolution scenario; and fourth, examine why and how this symbiotic co-evolution scenario results in new participatory spaces for the main actors associated with the provision of welfare services.

Design/methodology/approach

The review of the literature examines how the new model for the provision of welfare services facilitated by big data challenges the traditional professional model for the provision of welfare services. The authors use the Danish case to illustrate a number of themes related to this looking at the hospital sector as an example.

Findings

The proposition is that a symbiotic co-evolution scenario will emerge. A mix of the classic ideal model and practice of the service professionals’ provision of services and the digital society’s model of the provision of services is the most likely scenario in the years to come. Furthermore, Data-driven management (DDM) as an integrated key element in a symbiotic co-evolution creates (opens up) participatory environments and spaces for the main actors and agents associated with the provision of welfare services to the citizens.

Research limitations/implications

DDM’s impact on the provision of welfare services is still being realised and worked out, and more empirical research is needed before it is possible to point at the most likely scenario. However, according to the authors’ analytical framework, the institutional logics perspective, as presented in Section 2, a symbiotic co-evolution is most likely such that DDM will constitute a new logic within the provision of welfare services on the basis of which citizens as end-users could be provided with welfare services, but it is not likely that the new logic of DDM can displace the classic service professionals’ model of the provision of welfare services. Therefore, the new logic of DDM will be combined with and integrated into the existing logics within service provision, such as the Weberian bureaucracy, the Street-Level Bureaucracy, the New Public Governance and the Market. In spite of this, DDM can successfully be promoted by international management consulting firms, as a management concept which can remedy all the problems of the classic service professionals’ model of the provision of welfare services to citizens.

Practical implications

As a consequence of this, new relationships among professionals, data analytics, (middle) managers and citizens will be created regarding the provision of welfare services. Considering the new participatory environments and spaces and the new relationships among the classic service professionals, the data analytics, the (middle) managers and the citizens as end-users, the provision of welfare services may become an arena for negotiation of a new future model of the provision of welfare services to citizens.

Originality/value

The digital society has emerged from and developed further via: digitising, online information in almost real time, algorithms, data-informed decision-making processes, DDM and, ultimately, big data. The authors expect to see further digitising, more sophisticated algorithms and more big data. The authors suggest that a new model of the provision of welfare services to citizens will emerge from the development of the digital society. The authors also suggest that this new model will compete with the classic model of the provision of welfare services.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 38 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

1 – 10 of over 6000