Digital welfare state and problem arising : an exploration and future research agenda

Zita Wahyu LARASATI, Tauchid Komara YUDA*, Akbarian Rifki SYAFA'AT

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The penetration of technology and the strengthening of evidence-based policies have paved the way for the automated delivery of social services. This study aims to discuss the inherent risks of this automatization, particularly those associated with the discrimination, exclusion and inequality problem, which the authors package under the theoretical umbrella of a digital welfare state (DWS).

This conceptual article reviews the literature on the welfare DWS, with an empirical focus on the recent experience of selected countries from India, Kenya and Sweden. These countries reflect three different types of welfare regimes but are connected by the same digital social risk. The authors’ exploration also includes questions about what this DWS has in common with and how it differs from the previous era. This article illustrates that there has been a very similar trajectory in regards to the development of the DWS and the associated risks in the examined countries.

DWS has triggered new social risks (e.g. discrimination, exclusion and inequality in welfare access) that are a result of data breaches experienced by citizens. Further, vulnerable groups in the digital age should be viewed not only as those who lack access to welfare services, such as education, health and employment, but also as those without internet access, without digital skills and excluded from the DWS system.

The article calls for the development of scholarly research into the DWS in particular and the contemporary one in general. The authors also predict that a critical aspect of the future regime typology rests in the ability to mobilize resources to address contemporary digital risks, as every country is equally vulnerable to them. Overall, this article can be considered to be one of the initial works that focus on cross-national comparison across different meta-welfare regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-549
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Issue number5/6
Early online date5 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Automated decision
  • Digital social risks
  • Digital welfare state
  • Welfare regimes


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