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Welfare After Digitalization conference

November 28, 2022 - November 29, 2022

Digitalizing welfare, outsourcing responsibility

View full call here.

During the conference we will take stock of digitalization efforts in the public sector using responsibility as our lens for understanding and intervening in current efforts. Bringing together decision-makers, interest organizations, NGOs, citizens, journalists, educators, and researchers the conference will form a meeting place for exchange of insights and opinions regarding the disparate intentions and varied effects of digitalizing welfare. The goal is to better understand what welfare has become now, after the digitalization of key functions have taken place. In particular, we are interested in the digitalization of four key welfare sectors: education, energy, health care, and law enforcement, but presentations of studies or interventions beyond these sectors are welcome, too (e.g. news media, child care, protection of labor rights, migration and asylum management etc.).

We propose to focus on the outsourcing of responsibility to address a salient feature following public sector digitalization: Public sector digitalization in most cases involves private businesses, either as in-house consultants or as owners of a platform. This differs from traditional forms of Public-Private-Partnerships as an important element is to delegate responsibility to new actors, including citizens. This tendency raises questions about ownership, both with respect to the provided expertise or technical infrastructure as well as in relation to the data that is created, transported, and stored. What happens when the responsibility for welfare services is outsourced? We invite case studies, historical perspectives, first-hand experiences, ethnographies, political manifestos, digital methods and more.

The conference is unique in that we strive for dialogue and joint presentations to share knowledge across practices and worlds that are often separate. We invite presenters to share research, experiences, and politics individually or as a group. This way we wish to make space for conversations and exchange insights between people who occupy very different positions in relation to digitalization programs and their effects.

Combining well-known conference formats like paper presentations and roundtable debate with researcher-cum-interlocutor presentations, the conference will articulate in the broadest possible sense what digitalization does to welfare – and the other way around. Prior to the conference a collection of essays exploring different styles of understanding and writing about welfare in a digitized context will be made. The collection will made available for the participants prior to the conference and launched during the conference. It will work as a shared point of departure for reflection and debate.

Keynote speakers:

  • Mareile Kaufmann, Dept of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo
  • Kean Birch, Dept of Geography, York University

Topics of interest

  • Welfare governance with a special focus on data
  • Use and non-use of ICTs
  • Demoing and prototyping
  • Sustainable digital infrastructures
  • Digital equality, in- and exclusion
  • Lived experiences of digitalized welfare systems
  • Making things valuable
  • Pandemic management and responsabilization
  • Privacy of data in a digitalized welfare society
  • From public goods to digital outsourced services


November 28, 2022
November 29, 2022


Welfare After Digitalization, Velux Core Group


IT University of Copenhagen
Rued Langgaards Vej 7
Copenhagen S, 2300 Denmark
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