Remaking Citizenship: Welfare Reform and Public Sector Digitalization

Jannick Schou

Publikation: Bog / Antologi / Rapport / Ph.D.-afhandlingPh.d.-afhandling


Since the early 1990s, advanced capitalist states have turned to digitalization as a new means of
welfare state restructuring and public sector reform. Narrated as a simple, technical solution to
complex political and institutional problems, digitalization has risen to the top of policy agendas
in Europe and beyond. So far, however, little research has been conducted on the impact and
consequences of this political instrument for welfare institutions and citizenship. This dissertation
presents a study of welfare reform and public sector digitalization from a citizenship perspective.
It seeks to unpack how and in what ways citizenship has been remade in the transition to an
increasingly digitalized public sector.
The dissertation provides a case study of digitalization reforms in Denmark, a country that has been
continuously promoted as an international frontrunner in terms of digitalizing its public sector.
Through five separate research publications, the dissertation examines the remaking of citizenship
as a simultaneously political, institutional and technological set of processes. The publications
investigate the discursive construction of citizenship in national policies, the local governance of
citizens in municipal citizen service centers and the exclusionary patterns that are currently emerging
around contemporary ideals of citizenship. In doing so, the dissertation documents a series of
interlinked political, institutional and structural shifts. It shows how new normative expectations
have been constructed by policymakers as to the proper forms of citizenship. It demonstrates
how these political discourses have paved the way for new legal mechanisms, technological
infrastructures and institutional configurations. And it details how these processes have served to
reproduce both new and old patterns of exclusion. Most substantially, the dissertation argues that
citizens already at the fringes of the welfare state are being further excluded with the turn towards
increasingly coercive forms of policy implementation.
Taken together, the dissertation argues that these different forces must be grasped as part of a
layered political strategy seeking to significantly alter the relation between the Danish state and
its citizens. By demonstrating these changes, the dissertation contributes with original knowledge
to existing research on citizenship and welfare state reform. It gives a forceful argument for why
scholars of citizenship and welfare restructuring can only ignore digitalization at their own peril.
ForlagIT-Universitetet i København
Antal sider233
ISBN (Trykt)978-87-7949-018-5
StatusUdgivet - 2018


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