—Sofia Ranchordas, University of Groningen
[Editor’s note: This is one of our biweekly I-CONnect columns. For more information about our four columnists for 2020, please click here.]
Over the past several decades, public administrations, universities, and schools have been debating whether and how to automate administrative procedures and invest in remote learning and working. In a matter of days, the impossible happened. In the months of February and March, schools and universities throughout the world were required to shift classes online, government buildings closed their doors, and citizens were asked to use online portals as much as possible to apply for any permits, requests, and report any situations in need of attention. At first sight, the spread of COVID-19 has appeared to put an end to several hesitations regarding the shift to online teaching, remote working, and the advancement of digital government. Strangely enough, this shift appears to be working, particularly for individuals who do not have homeschooling obligations and enjoy the peace and quiet of their homes. However, a closer look at this situation shows that the rapid digitalization of public services (including health and education) is leaving out a growing number of citizens. Remote learning and working are privileges that are designed for so-called ‘digital citizens’, that is, individuals who can fully engage with technology from an educational, political, and participatory perspective. Nevertheless, many individuals do not yet identify themselves as digital citizens and are not even acquainted with the meaning and implications of this concept.
In my previous blogpost, I introduced the problem of digital exclusion, its impact on the exercise of fundamental rights, and the importance of adopting more inclusive and flexible approaches to digital government. In this blogpost, I delve into the varying dimensions of digital citizenship as this concept plays a crucial role in the analysis of digital inequalities and digital rights.Read the rest of this entry…