Crisis upon crisis, from pandemic and war to climate change to democratic breakup, government institutions face rapidly changing service demands, unpredictable geopolitical environment, and challenges to their own legitimacy. They cannot address such crises alone without mobilizing adequate social response, even supported by advanced technology. In turn, such a response requires citizens to feel (and act upon) their responsibility toward each other, e.g., changing one’s attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles for collective well-being. It requires solidarity – the recognition that “we are all in this together”. While different notions of “we” produce different variants of solidarity – universal, civil, social, or political, all variants are about relationships, intentionality, and sacrifice.
TECHNOLOGY AND SOLIDARITY
What the COVID-19 pandemic taught us is that the efficacy of any technical solution deployed to fight the pandemic, e.g., public messaging, policy innovation, regulatory action, technology platform, needs to be accompanied by a positive social reaction: social distancing, self-quarantine, self-protection restrain, community volunteering, and other expressions of social solidarity. But the pandemic also taught us that common threats and fear could both unite and disunite, leading to feelings and acts of greater solidarity or polarization. Public messaging amplified by social technology can balance or counter-balance such discourses. But technology can also help strengthen solidarity and social cohesion by fostering e-democracy, providing a voice to traditionally excluded groups, promoting equitable resource distribution, etc.
GOVERNMENT, TECHNOLOGY AND SOLIDARITY
The conference aims to put the concept of solidarity at the center of the digital government debate. To this end, it focuses on how digital government can enhance solidarity and, conversely, how solidarity can enhance the efficacy of digital government in responding to global crises and local constituency demands.