The rise of the digital society is accompanied by incalculable social risks, but very little IS research has examined the implications of the new digital society. Drawing on concepts from Beck’s critical theory of the risk society and critical discourse analysis, this study examines the public discourse on risk events during the launch of NemID, a personal digital identifier for Danish citizens. This research illustrates our difficulties and challenges in managing some of the fundamental social risks from societal digitalisation. Limited institutional capabilities for digital technologies force public officials to depend on private companies motived by profit instead of the public interest. Beliefs in digital technology as the primary determinant of social and economic progress also present many public management dilemmas. When digital risk events occur and citizens’ fears are stoked by news media and public discourse, public officials seem to have no other strategy for managing the escalating fears than systematically distorted communication. The continued rise of the digital risk society demands that IS research respond to the challenge of generating knowledge for its public management.
Bibliographical noteEpub ahead of print. Published online: 07 May 2021
- Critical social theory
- Digital risk society
- Critical is research
- National digital infrastructure