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Work of the ‘Unemployed’: A Design Fiction

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European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)


This paper presents a design fiction: a research prototype of a platform for unemployed individuals trading their personal data. The design fiction questions the ramifications of an understanding of data as individual property by showing a near-future speculative scenario of what government-driven job placement could look like. Which are the kinds of accountability and agency that could be leveraged in the context of job placement if data of unemployed individuals are considered property that can be traded with the public sector in return for support? An algorithm classifies the performance of unemployed individuals based on the data they upload. This way the algorithm becomes the central mechanism for accountability and control instead of the caseworker, who acts as an arbitrator between the individual citizen and algorithm. Our purpose with this paper, and the speculative research prototype, is to create a space for reflection on dilemmas in relation to data property, accountability, and agency in public services.


Nielsen, Trine Rask; Holten Møller, Naja (2020): Work of the ‘Unemployed’: A Design Fiction. Proceedings of 18th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. DOI: 10.18420/ecscw2020_p03. European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET). PISSN: 2510-2591. Poster. Siegen, Germany. 13 - 17 June 2020