Anne Kaun – Automating Welfare: Interfaces and Backends of the Digital Welfare State

Anne Kaun

Södertörn University

From The Conference August 31, 2023

Reimagining public infrastructures and systems has the potential to enhance accessibility and usefulness for diverse groups within society. Instead of taking a starting point in creating digital tools (which is often the case), Anne Kaun suggests looking into the frictions that emerge in the use of digital platforms and infrastructures.


Anne stages a scene, drawn from her real-life research to exemplify marginal stories of problems with navigating digital platforms and services. Imagine a woman who struggles to submit additional information in a digital welfare service application. At the institution's service centre, she is instructed by the staff to click through the platform and follow the steps. Digital self-help, as they say. 

“Even with digital tools, life will never be a smooth ride”

Stories and scenes like this, can show us discrepancies and imbalances of power, practices and opportunities. They are examples of situations when people are left out. Digital infrastructures have different functionalities and consequences for different people. The great intention of providing fully frictionless and smooth digital welfare services for everybody is simply not realistic as there will always be groups that will face inconveniences or limitations in using them. Instead of striving for a perfect solution that fits all, Anne suggests leveraging these frictions to collectively imagine a system that provides for diverse needs and capabilities.


Length 13:31
Total views 307
Theme 2023