Open Access

Fostering the data welfare state: A Nordic perspective on datafication


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.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Communication Science, Mass Communication, Public and Political Communication