Meaninglessness and Powerlessness: Alienation Among Welfare Professionals in the Digital Public Sector

Louise Jørring, Morten Hjelholt

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Welfare professionals’ work practices are changing significantly, as public sectors across the world are undergoing extensive digital transformations. States roll out grand digitalization and automation projects with a promise of higher efficiency and better quality in the public sector. However, the extensive digital transformation also put welfare professionals’ sense of professionalism at stake. Based on 13 interviews with welfare professionals, we in this paper explore how they experience a sense of alienation in relation to the digitalization of their work. We identify two experiences of alienation: (1) meaninglessness: a lack of human connection and (2) powerlessness: a sense of forced ignorance. These experiences of alienation challenge the welfare professionals’ job satisfaction as well as how they assess the cases of the citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event36th EGOS Colloquium 2020: Organizing for a Sustainable Future: Responsibility, Renewal & Resistance - Virtual Conference, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 2 Jul 20204 Jul 2020
Conference number: 36


Conference36th EGOS Colloquium 2020
LocationVirtual Conference
Internet address


  • Digitalization
  • Public sector
  • Welfare professionals
  • Alienation
  • Digital inequality

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