Fostering the data welfare state: A Nordic perspective on datafication

Rikke Andreassen, Anne Kaun, Kaarina Nikunen

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Digital tools facilitating everything from health to education have been introduced at a rapid pace to replace physical meetings and allow for social distancing measures as the Covid-19 pandemic has sped up the drive to large-scale digitalisation. This rapid digitalisation enhances the already ongoing process of datafication, namely turning ever-increasing aspects of our identities, practices, and societal structures into data. Through an analysis of empirical examples of datafication in three important areas of the welfare state - employment services, public service media, and the corrections sector - we draw attention to some of the inherent problems of datafication in the Nordic welfare states. The analysis throws critical light on automated decision-making processes and illustrates how the ideology of dataism has become increasingly entangled with welfare provision. We end the article with a call to develop specific measures and policies to enable the development of the data welfare state, with media and communication scholars playing a crucial role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • automated predictions
  • data welfare state
  • datafication
  • dataism
  • welfare state

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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