Winthereik argues that digital systems are woven into every step of citizen-state interaction in a digitalized country like Denmark. In Winthereik's rendering, the Citizen from Hell is a figure that constitutes a bundle of practices, indicating the messiness of a digital citizen identity; a form of self-healing, an attempt at surviving a long and confusing labyrinth of welfare services and communication platforms, a means of obfuscation of the standard citizen figure embedded in the system. It is also a kind of resistance.
Taking an analytical point of departure in what Sawyer et al (2019) et al has labelled ‘infrastructural competence’, Winthereik suggests we consider citizen-state encounters in the digital state as providing a window into situations in which differences are produced. To grasp life in the digital welfare state, we must have new methodologies and narrate forth an assiduous citizen, whose emotional efforts and self-efficacy carve out a space from where to negotiate welfare services as well as critique the digital as an opaque digital environment that is difficult to use and see through.
To understand life in the digitalized welfare state, we need to understand the citizen as already and always datafied in the eyes of the state. How digital platforms are configured and what people’s experiences of using them are is something we need to understand much better if we are to understand the (digital) welfare state in practice, she argues.
If you wish to take part in the discussion, the chapter is available upon request from Gro Stueland Skorpen.