Stream 18: Social citizenship in the technological era

Minna Van Gerven, Stefano Sacchi and Manos Matsaganis

The technological advancements currently affecting our societies raise questions about citizenship, work and the welfare state. Digitalisation bears the promise to advance democracy by fostering new forms of e-participation that go beyond the hierarchical command and control governance.

At the same time, digitalisation can be a source of conflict as it may extend the digital divide and strengthen social exclusion and marginalisation among the most vulnerable. Automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning can destroy jobs and even entire occupations, those mostly involving routine tasks, while also creating new jobs in occupations complementary to the new technologies.

These transformations will not go unchallenged and are likely to spur conflicts, unless managed through anticipatory public policy to regulate markets and firms, to equip workers with adequate skills, to enable mobility across occupations and industries, and to provide social protection and sufficient safety nets. The rise of the platform economy, although still limited in size, is a good example of ongoing conflict where rise of new labour market practices clashes with traditional forms of work and worker representation.

Both digitalisation and automation have significant implications for the welfare state, for the way it is funded, for the social risks it recognises and strives to deal with, for the range and content of the services and income support it provides, for the formation of skills it fosters and so on. At the same time, new technologies open novel possibilities for meeting existing risks more effectively, for instance those connected to disabilities, education, integration and care.

While such novel technological innovations are promising in many ways, they also raise all kinds of questions, regarding governance, social and ethical issues. The proposed stream will seek to contribute to the emerging debate on the citizenship and work in digital societies, and the role of the welfare state in the new technological era.

We will welcome contributions that advance our knowledge about how social policy might deal with consequences of new technologies and how scholars and analysts can contribute to the better governance and policies of these technologies. We are predominantly interested in papers providing empirical (qualitative or quantitative) accounts.

We invite contributions on the role of technology in various policy domains: for example, on the impact of digitalisation and automation on labour markets and organisation of work, on the quality of jobs and on social protection, on social services, and on the use of technology in care.