About the Center for Digital Welfare
The CDW’s strategic direction is formed by a management team with Professor Brit Ross Winthereik serving as Head of Center, Associate Professor Morten Hjelholt as Co-Head of Center, and Kitt Plinia Nielsen as Strategic Project Manager.
Furthermore, the CDW consists of three working groups with the themes ‘The Agile State’ led by Associate Professor Irina Papazu, ‘Democratic Digital Spaces’ led by Assistant Professor Joanna Saad-Sulonen, and ‘Digital Citizenship’ led by Assistant Professor Marie Ertner. Each of the three working groups consist of up to ten members, who come together several times per semester to engage in research activities and projects both with and without the CDW’s stakeholders. In the following you will find a concise introduction to each working group.
The Agile State
This working group focuses on the changes that happen in the public sector, as traditional bureaucratic processes are accommodated to the principle of agility. Of interest is digitalization at the state-level, which we understand as the governmental apparatus of political decision-making and the technical-bureaucratic layers of the central administration. We find the role of transnational public sector collaborations concerning digitalization of particular value for insights into how different political systems and cultures make different digital states. We are intrigued by pursuing questions of the mutual construction of digitalization processes and politics, bureaucracy, statehood and private sector influences.
The working group studies implications of the ever-closer relationship between the public and the private sector, and analyzes the consequences for longstanding democratic values, such as trust, transparency and deliberation. We offer empirical and conceptual answers to questions about the effects and implications of these new departures of the digitalized and digitalizing state. Creating knowledge about how digitalization reconfigures the state and vice versa is a crucial step in the conversation about the future of the welfare state.
Democratic Digital Spaces
This working group examines different digital spaces where democratic practices emerge and unfold. In so doing we focus on mundane, bottom up, and grassroots approaches to self-organisation, to doing things together, and to commoning processes. We are curious about how such approaches are shaped together with or away from formal democratic structures and spaces, e.g. those set in motion by the (welfare) state, and/or rely on or break free from infrastructures and services offered by commercial actors.
Some of the questions that guide us are the following:
- What do we understand by democratic digital spaces? In what shape do they currently exist? Who / what is shaping them? How? Why?
- Are these spaces open, shared, proprietary? When are they infrastructures, platforms, networks, artifact ecologies? Who provides them and controls them?
- What types of formations of people are engaging in new forms of democratic engagement? What kinds of digital/hybrid democratic practices can we identify? Where and how?
- How does a spatial approach help us understand digitalization?
- How can we engage in the design of democratic digital spaces? How can design initiatives be democratic and just? What is (could) the role of the welfare state (be) in guiding processes of shaping democratic digital spaces?
The DDS working group explores these questions from different perspectives, aiming at fertile cross-pollination across fields of studies, such as design, architecture, computer science, and social sciences. We think about digitalization by drawing concepts and vocabularies from the study of space, the commons, participatory design, and feminist theories. While researching specific digital geographies of the Nordic region, we are also sensitive to the ways in which ‘the Nordic’ is a world of many worlds (a pluriverse). We therefore address questions of democratic digital spaces by drawing on our own multiple identities and through collaborations with colleagues globally.
This working group focuses on the subject positions or ‘bodies’ that come into being through the digital technologies that are put in place with the purpose of delivering welfare. We take the notion of ‘digital citizens/digital citizenship’ as the starting point for our conversations. What does this notion enable and restrain as we imagine and build infrastructures for welfare that support citizens in the future?
The purpose of this working group is to create knowledge about emerging relations between welfare services, digitalization, and citizenship. We appreciate a processual view on citizen identity and its relations to technologies in practice. For the members of this working group a digital citizen is not a static figure or an endpoint for digitalization politics. All too often, citizens have become trapped in digitalization processes. This was for example the case in the transition from physical to digital public mail in Denmark, where the figuration of citizens as ‘digital per default’ excluded a large part of society from the service and rendered them in turn as ‘less capable citizens’. Our research takes ‘digital citizens’ as a working model or theory that we need to explore further to understand what it legitimizes, contests, and drives in terms of politics and technological developments.
We offer critical perspectives on digital welfare by tracing its implications for citizenship and explore the effects – both social, material and affective - on the people and practices that are affected by the increasing digitalization of the welfare society and the conjoint demands of becoming digital citizens.