Wednesday 28th

Anne Kaun

Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Södertörn University in Stockholm

Anne Kaun is Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Södertörn University in Stockholm. In several projects, she is currently exploring algorithmic automation in welfare provision as well as the history of digitalization in Sweden. In 2023, she published the book Prison Media together with Fredrik Stiernstedt with MIT Press. At the moment, she is finalizing a book on the Data Welfare State together with Anu Masso.

Website: annekaun.com

TITLE OF THE KEYNOTE SPEECH: Digital Vulnerabilities in Automated Welfare: Moving Beyond Scandals Towards the Mundane

A nascent but vivid interdisciplinary field studying the nexus of welfare and algorithmic automation has up until recently been focusing on highlighting and disentangling particularly cruel scandals, including the algorithmic bias in child welfare provision in the Netherlands, welfare fraud detection in Denmark, and Robo-Debt in Australia. These works have been instrumental in pointing out algorithmic harms and risks that emerge with automating welfare. As algorithmic automation is getting ever more mundane in the welfare sector, we need to move beyond the focus on extraordinary scandals and develop systematic knowledge on the transformation of welfare on a more fundamental level. Such systematic knowledge production should be interdisciplinary and comparative to highlight the complexities of this transformation process.

In this talk, I suggest the notion of ‘digital vulnerabilities’ as a step in this direction. Following Martha Fine, I consider vulnerability as “a universal, inevitable, enduring aspect of the human condition that must be at the heart of our concept of social and state responsibility” (2008, p. 9). Based on a large-scale comparative project on automating welfare across Europe, I suggest that digital vulnerabilities emerge at two levels: first at the level of digital infrastructures, and second at the level of citizen experience. Both levels have potential consequences for public values in the context of the welfare state. Drawing on extensive empirical research, I propose digital vulnerabilities as a key concept that helps us to move beyond singular case studies of algorithmic harm and towards exploring the mundanity of algorithmic governance.

Thursday 29th

Zachary Parolin

Assistant Professor of Social Policy at Bocconi University and a Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy

Zachary Parolin is an Assistant Professor of Social Policy at Bocconi University and a Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy. At Bocconi, Parolin directs an ERC-funded research team focused on the measurement, sources, and consequences of poverty and inequality. Parolin has published more than 40 studies on the topics of poverty and inequality, and published his first book (Poverty in the Pandemic: Policy Lessons from COVID-19) in 2023. His recent research has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Atlantic, CNN, in a U.S. presidential debate, and in other outlets.

Website: zachparolin.com 

TITLE OF KEYNOTE SPEECH: Poor Children, Poor Adults? The Intergenerational Persistence of Poverty in Europe

Poor children are more likely to become poor adults, but less so in some countries compared to others. Prior research offers conflicting accounts of the factors that promote stronger or weaker intergenerational persistence of poverty, as well as the mechanisms through which it is channeled. Moreover, intergenerational poverty research has generally studied a single institutional context, often excludes women and the lowest-income men from analyses, uses incomplete income measures, and/or lacks the data needed to observe the social processes through which disadvantage persists. In this talk, I provide new evidence from comparative panel datasets on the economic, social, and institutional factors that drive cross-national variation in the intergenerational persistence of poverty.

Friday 30th

Panel Discussion

TITLE OF PANEL DISCUSSION: Making it last. How to reinvent the welfare state in times of multiple crises

Welfare states currently face unprecedented challenges and is under constant pressure. Yet, the welfare state is not only the object or victim of these challenges. If properly equipped, the welfare state has shown itself in the past to be an effective vehicle to promote economic efficient and social justice in times of crisis and restoration. In this panel discussion we will ponder how to keep the welfare state sustainable and what kind of reinvention is needed. Welfare states need to be economically and socially sustainable, but there is more. How to make welfare states politically sustainable? As many citizens see their wellbeing and economic livelihood threatened, political parties that campaign for cutting down social rights, services and benefits are winning election after election. How to make welfare states ecologically sustainable and how can they promote ecological sustainability, if climate change threatens the foundations of economic prosperity and social stability? How to make welfare states demographically sustainable when birthrates in many industrialized countries are at an all-time low, but immigration as a potential solution is often seen as politically controversial?



Christian Albrekt Larsen – Aalborg University

Bernhard Ebbinghaus – University of Mannheim

Tuuli Hirvilammi – Tampere University

Anna Kurowska – University of Warsaw



Maria Vaalavuo – Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare