TRACK 17: Digital Government, Solidarity and Social Cohesion

Track chairs: David Duenas-Cid (Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland), Elsa Estevez (Universidad Nacional del Sur and National Research Council for Scientific and Technological Research, CONICET, Argentina), and Tomasz Janowski (Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland and Danube University Krems, Austria)

Solidarity is a unity of feeling among people sharing a common objective or interest, despite their logical differences and inequalities. A key measure for building social cohesion, particularly in deeply divided societies, it embodies human rights, active citizenship, inclusion, and empathy. Government has a profound impact on solidarity and social cohesion. Still, this impact can be double-edged: government policy can help increase social solidarity and social cohesion, but too much reliance on the government to solve society’s problems and organize citizens’ lives can lead to a breakdown of social cohesion. Digitizing government adds new layers of complexity to this relation: it can scale up the positive impact of government on solidarity, but it can also amplify polarization and, hence, negatively affect government efficacy. On the other hand, solidarity can enhance digital government by triggering technological innovation, e.g., creating tools for vulnerable citizens during a crisis, or becoming the goal for such innovation, e.g., fostering the more equitable distribution of resources. Thus the relationship between digital government and solidarity is rich and intense. This track aims to unravel some of the open questions regarding this topic. Key among them is how digital government can enhance solidarity and social cohesion and, conversely, how solidarity and social cohesion can enhance the efficacy of the government’s digital agenda and the efficacy of digital government itself.