Digital displacements: from citizen service to co-service

Anja Svejgaard Pors

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPaperResearch


In recent years digital reforms are being introduced in the municipal landscape of Denmark. The reforms address the interaction between citizen and local authority. The aim is, that by 2015 at least 80 per cent of all correspondence between citizens and public authority will be transmitted through digital interface. However, the transformation of citizen services from traditional face-to-face interaction to digital self-service gives rise to new practices; some citizens need support to be able to manage self-service through digital tools. A mixture of support and teaching, named co-service, is a new task in public administration, where street level bureaucrats assist citizens in using the new digital solutions.
The paper is based on a case study conducted primarily in a citizen service centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. Based on ethnography the paper gives an empirical account of the ongoing digital reforms in Denmark and shows how citizen service is transformed from service to support. The frontline employee’s classical tasks such as casework are being displaced into educational and support-oriented tasks with less professional content. Thus an unintended effect of digitisation is blurred distinctions between the professional skilled employee and the personal self of public servants. In particular, I argue that contemporary political demands for e-government entail three entangled displacements in the work of frontline public servants in citizen service: 1) De-professionalization of the task; 2) strategic informality in relation to citizens; and 3) commitment through inculcation of political strategies.
Translated title of the contributionDigitale forskydninger: fra borgerservice til medbetjening
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateApr 2014
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

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