Rethinking the Digital Welfare State
In a world where automation is thought to increase productivity and efficiency with less effort and at lower costs, what happens to democratic values when this logic is deployed to support decisions in the welfare sector? During the sabbatical I will synthesize my previous work on the extensive implementation of automated decision-making in the welfare sector in Sweden in a book-length monograph being one of the first to systematically link automation to questions of shrinking trust, decline in civic participation and in extension challenges for democracy. Data-based infrastructures for public administration are shaping not only welfare provision, but also state-citizen relations and open up questions of ethics and accountability, human agency in relation to complex socio-technical systems as well as biases and inequalities. The planned book foregrounds the perspective of citizens both in terms of the introduction process and its democratic implications. Drawing on my previous research that has combined extensive mapping, policy analysis, organisational ethnographies, surveys, in-depth interviews and expert interviews, the book engages with the a) policies b) the practices and c) attitudes and implications of automated decision-making. The book will provide an in-depth and cutting-edge understanding of the process of automating welfare from a Swedish perspective producing highly relevant insights into how automated decision-making can support but also harm democracy.