Infrastructures for partially digital citizens: Supporting informal welfare work in the digitized state

Digitalization in the Nordic countries has largely covered all welfare areas; social service, public schools, and health care. A strong user-perspective has led to a focus on self-service solutions. However, as citizens engage in encounters with the welfare state through educational, health care and social services, it is increasingly clear that there are still needs related to digitalization that are unmet. For instance, citizens who struggle with social, cognitive or health related challenges may refrain from using the digital solutions put in place by the public authorities. Even though they may be able to use mobile commercial digital devices and services through socialmedia etc., their agency as digital citizens remain partial as more or less extensive communicative support is required for them to access welfare services.

The SOS project offers a comparative mapping of information-processing and communicative aspects of informal welfare work across three welfare sectors. Informal welfare work is unpaid support of citizens in his/her interactions with welfare state institutions and actors. SOS takes as a point of departure that in order to keep their position as world-leading digital welfare societies, the Nordic countries cannot afford to ignore designing support for such work. Not only does a lack of support for the partially digital citizens cut deeply into the overall Nordic value of universal welfare, there is a risk that welfare costs will escalate in the future, if support is not provided.

The project has a strong consortium of universities, public sector, and industry partners in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Its main ambition is to map informal welfare work in three welfare sectors across three Nordic countries and to propose and prototype socio-digital innovations that enable synergy between informal welfare work and requirements of public authorities. With an excellent consortium and a broad and engaged panel of affiliated partners we are well-equipped to offer solutions for an area that is currently invisible and unacknowledged, and help future-proofing digital welfare societies in the Nordic region.

Project members

  • IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Agency for Digitisation
  • University of Agder (Norway)
  • University of Gothenburg (Sweden)