This paper explores how digital techniques of policy implementation can themselves propel, shape and/or disrupt processes of welfare reform. It does so via a close analysis of the implementation of the Online Compliance Intervention, popularly known as ‘robo-debt’, by the Australian Department of Human Services (DHS). As it argues, this automated debt recovery system has transformed the governance of welfare compliance in Australia. Robo-debt has shifted responsibility for proving the existence of welfare non-compliance from the welfare state to the individual welfare recipient and has automated and ‘dehumanised’ the infliction of informal punishments, including debt recovery processes. Ultimately, robo-debt has enabled and contributed to broader processes of punitive welfare reform. The case of robo-debt prompts wider questions about the relationship between law and its technical implementation, and highlights the productive possibilities of the technologies of welfare administration.
Our 2020 Annual Conference was scheduled to be held at the University of Wrocław in Poland on July 9-11, 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our next Annual Conference will take place from July 8-10, 2021. The conference, "ICON•S Mundo", will be held online. Details regarding the organization of the 2021 Conference will follow soon.Join ICON•S