Promise, Application and Pitfalls
Edited by John Storm Pedersen and Adrian Wilkinson
Chapter 15: The digital welfare state: Dataism versus relationshipism
The digital society, and consequently the digital welfare state, has been developing and is expected to develop further in the coming years. Within the digital welfare state, a new model of the provision of public welfare services to citizens as end-users on the basis of dataism is emerging. Dataism is defined as a belief in the logic of data – that data, not humans, can determine which public welfare services are best for citizens. The emerging model positions data analysts as a key profession, they hold the key to the model: digital algorithms. In addition, the emerging model has the potential to resolve the blind (weak) spots of the public welfare service semi-professionals’ ideal four-step model of the provision of welfare services to citizens. At present, the semi-professionals’ model dominates. The model reflects relationshipism. Relationshipism is defined as a belief in the logic of trust-based relationships between public welfare service semi-professionals and citizens – that trust-based relationships, not data, can determine which services are best for citizens. Consequently, trust-based dialogues between public welfare service semi-professionals and citizens in combination with co-production and co-delivery of public welfare services are the core of the public welfare service semi-professionals’ ideal model. Because the emerging model has the potential to resolve the blind (weak) spots of the public welfare service semi-professionals’ ideal model, it also has the potential to outcompete the semi-professionals’ model.
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