Automating Welfare – Algorithmic Infrastructures for Human Flourishing in Europe

Project manager

Kaun, Anne - Professor


FORTE: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project type



In a world where automation is thought to increase productivity and efficiency with less effort and at lower costs, what happens to human flourishing when this logic is deployed to support decisions in the welfare sector? AUTO-WELF investigates the extensive implementation of automated decision-making in the welfare sector across Europe. It is the first to provide a comparative analysis of automated welfare provision across European welfare regimes to examine the implications of algorithms and artificial intelligence for the future of European citizens and societies. Data-based infrastructures for public administration are shaping not only welfare provision, but also state-citizen relations and prompt questions of human agency in relation to complex socio-technical systems, ethics and accountability, as well as biases and inequalities. The project foregrounds the perspective of people implicated in the automation process including software engineers, case workers and citizens. Implementing a multimethod, interdisciplinary and cross-country comparative approach, the project will develop groundbreaking knowledge on the consequences of automating welfare in two domains: a) core welfare service and b) communal welfare infrastructures. These domains will be explored across eight European countries (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden) representing four types of the welfare state and its different stages of automated decision-making. The project provides an indepth and cutting-edge understanding of the process of automating welfare from a European perspective producing highly relevant insights into how automated decision-making can support but also harm human flourishing.

Stine Lomborg
Christian Pentzold
Doris Alhutter
Karolina Sztandar-Sztanderska

Research area / geographic area

Culture and Education Media and Communication Studies Critical and Cultural Theory Media Europe

Contract ID


Project time

2022 — 2025

Useful links

Digital Welfare


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