About the Center for Digital Welfare

The Center for Digital Welfare is a research center at the IT University of Copenhagen with researchers from all three university departments. The CDW researchers come together in working with questions related to the digitalization of the welfare society.

The CDW’s strategic direction is formed by a management team with a Head of Center (currently vacant) and Kitt Plinia Nielsen as Strategic Project Manager.

Furthermore, the CDW consists of four working groups with the themes The Agile State led by Associate Professor Irina Papazu, Digital Democratic Spaces led by Assistant Professor Thorben Simonsen, Digital Citizenship led by Associate Professor Sisse Finken, and Sustainable Digitalization formerly led by Assistant Professor James Maguire. Each of the four working groups consists of up to ten members, who come together several times per semester to engage in research activities and projects both with and without the CDW’s stakeholders. In the following, you will find a concise introduction to each working group.


Working Group 1: The Agile State

led by Associate Professor Irina Papazu (irpa@itu.dk)


This working group focuses on the changes taking place in the public sector as it engages in digitalization processes. We focus on digitalization at the state level, understood as the governmental apparatus of political decision-making and the central administration's technical-bureaucratic layers.

We are intrigued by pursuing questions about the mutual construction of digitalization processes and politics, bureaucracy, statehood and private sector influences.

The working group studies implications of the ever-closer relationship between the public and the private sector – not least exemplified by introducing agile methods into the state procedures  - and analyzes the consequences for longstanding democratic values, such as trust, transparency, and public deliberation.

We offer empirical and conceptual answers to questions about the effects and implications of these new departures of the digitalized and digitalizing state. Creating knowledge about how digitalization reconfigures the state and vice versa is crucial in the conversation about the future of the welfare state.


Working Group 2: Digital Democratic Spaces

led by Assistant Professor Thorben Simonsen (thsi@itu.dk)


This working group examines different digital spaces where democratic practices emerge and unfold. We are curious about how mundane, bottom-up, and grassroots  approaches are shaped together with or away from formal democratic structures and spaces, e.g., those set in motion by the (welfare) state, and/or rely on or break free from infrastructures and services offered by commercial actors. 

Some of the questions that guide us are the following:

  • What do we understand by digital democratic spaces? 
  • How does a spatial approach help us understand digitalization? 
  • How can we engage in the design of digital democratic spaces?

The DDS working group explores these questions from different perspectives, aiming at fertile cross-pollination across fields of studies, such as design, architecture, computer science, and social sciences. We think about digitalization by drawing concepts and vocabularies from the study of space, the commons, participatory design, and feminist theories. While researching specific digital geographies of the Nordic region, we are also sensitive to the ways in which ‘the Nordic’ is a world of many worlds (a pluriverse). We therefore address questions of digital democratic spaces by drawing on our own multiple identities and through collaborations with colleagues globally.


People phones

Working Group 3: Digital Citizenship

led by Associate Professor Sisse Finken (sisf@itu.dk)


This working group focuses on the subject positions or ‘bodies’ that come into being through the digital technologies put in place to deliver welfare. We explore how ’citizenship’ and ’welfare’ are being configured and transformed through new technological imaginaries and digitalization practices.

We are particularly interested in the implications of digitalization for ‘vulnerable populations’ – or how new technological initiatives may produce both new abilities and vulnerabilities. We explore the role of digital technologies in different domains such as aging, disability and healthcare, and pervasive ideas and policy discourses such as active citizenship, citizen science and security.

We offer critical perspectives on digital welfare by tracing its implications for citizenship and exploring the effects – both social, material and affective - on the people and practices affected by the increasing digitalization of the welfare society and the conjoint demands of becoming digital citizens.



Working Group 4: Sustainable Digitalization

formerly led by Assistant Professor James Maguire (jmag@itu.dk)


Members of the Sustainable Digitalization working group are interested in the various ways that digitalization has become an object of attention for sustainable thinking. The working group engages with the theme in two distinct, but interconnected, ways. Firstly as an environmental concern, and secondly, as a socio-political issue. 

The first points to the various environmentally inflected questions that digitalization generates. This is through both its negative carbon impact, and conversely, the promise of carbon mitigation that digitalisation holds. By focusing on specific sites of encounter where these questions manifest––digital infrastructures, IOT, organizations, data science––the group will bring an ethnographic spirit of enquiry to these issues. 

As a socio-political issue, the theme also engages with a range of ethical questions surrounding the current, and future, constitution of our digital infrastructures. In questioning the social sustainability of digitalisation, this area probes the impact of contemporary digital practices on a range of societal actors and forms: organisations and institutions, regions and localities, as well as concepts such as trust, rights, and solidarity. 

The working group welcomes those with an interest in questions of environmental and/or social sustainability as they relate  to;

  • data and digital infrastructures, digital and smart technologies, IOT & sensors, algorithms and Machine learning, automation and AI.
  • digital and climate imaginaries, digital anthropocene, digital governance, digital rights, trust, and justice, as well as post surveillance-capital futures