Automating Welfare – Algorithmic Infrastructures for Human Flourishing in Europe (AUTO-WELF)

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 consortium investigates the automation of welfare provision in eight European countries (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden).

The Danish branch of the AUTO-WELF consortium will empirically study “communal” and “core” welfare services respectively.

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 ground-breaking knowledge on the consequences of automating welfare in two domains:

  1. core welfare service;
  2. communal welfare infrastructures.

These domains will be explored across eight European countries (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden) representing four types of welfare state and its different stages of automated decision-making. The project provides an in-depth 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.






  • Project Leader: Anne Kaun, University of Södertörn, Department of Culture and Education, Sweden
  • Stine Lomborg, University of Copenhagen, Department of Communication, Denmark
  • Christian Pentzold, Leipzig University, Institut für Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft, Germany
  • Karolina Sztandar-Sztanderska, Department of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
  • Doris Allhutter, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Technology Assesment and Systems Analysis, Austria



  • Benjamin Schwarz and Rikke Frank Hørgensen delivered the paper “Reconceptualizing welfare fraud automation and the expansion of datafied authority” at the conference “Law, Society and Digital Pasts, Presents and Futures”. Lund University, (August 30-september 1st 2023).
  • Geiger, G. (2023, 7 March). How Denmark’s Welfare State Became a Surveillance NightmareWired. Benjamin Schwarz and Rikke Frank Jørgensen were background informants for this journalistic article. 
  • Rikke Frank Jørgensen delivered the presentation “Automating welfare fraud detection – the case of” at the Data Justice Workshop at the University of Copenhagen (31 May 2023).
  • The research group constituted the panel “Automated Agency” at the June 2023 workshop of the NordEthics network in Copenhagen (Panelists: Mirabelle Jones, Christoffer Bagger, Rikke Frank Jørgensen, Sille Obelitz Søe).

  • Stine Lomborg delivered the keynote Unpacking infrastructural power: on the material underpinnings of digital tracking at the TA23 Conference Infrastrukturen der Zukunft: Wie Kann TA Astehende Transformationen Begleitigen? At the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna (7 June 2023.)

  • Maris Männiste and Benjamin Schwarz delivered the paper “Reconceptualizating the ‘state’ in the age of automatization” at the TA23 Conference Infrastrukturen der Zukunft: Wie Kann TA Astehende Transformationen Begleitigen? At the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna (7 June 2023.)





Internal researchers

Name Title Phone E-mail
Bagger, Christoffer Postdoc +4535334104 E-mail
Lomborg, Stine Professor +4535328105 E-mail
Neumayer, Christina Associate Professor +4535333467 E-mail
Søe, Sille Obelitz Associate Professor +4535321409 E-mail

External researchers

Jørgensen, Rikke Frank 

Senior researcher, Danish Institute for Human Rights

Schwarz, Benjamin  Postdoctoral research fellow, Danish Institute for Human Rights E-mail


CHANSE, Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe

PI: Stine Lomborg, Centre for Tracking and Society
PL: Anne Kaun, Södertörn University.
Project period: October 2022 - December 2025

Main project