The Influence of Information and Communication Technologies on the Power Dynamics between Social Welfare Bureaucrats and Recipients
Suyoung Kim | Seoul National University
It is anticipated that the introduction of ICT to street-level welfare administration will smoothen communication processes between frontline officials and recipients by intensifying welfare information sharing and distribution. However, through a case study of ICT-mediated street-level welfare administration in South Korea, this article claims that ICT can deteriorate frontline official–recipient relationship into more distrustful and disempowered directions. This study demonstrates that ICT tends to replace face-to-face rapport building between officials and recipients with mechanical checking and complaining processes. ICT-based welfare administration can also disempower the autonomous interactions of street-level actors by surveiling every working step of frontline officials and the daily lives of recipients. Through an investigation into street-level bureaucracy in an information society, this study criticizes the dehumanization tendency of ICT-mediated human services and raises a question in the roseate vision on social welfare informatization.
street-level bureaucracy, information, social welfare bureaucrats, welfare recipients, human services
Korean Journal of Social Welfare Studies, vol. 49(1), 2018