Research project

The Role of Technology in Citizenship Governance: The Case of COVID-19

The project invites the reader to consider the technological challenges that will shape the institution of citizenship in the 21st century, as demonstrated by the coronavirus crisis.

Emerging technologies are likely to alter the institution of citizenship significantly. New technologies are already blurring the lines between physical and digital, local and global. Law enforcement agencies employ AI, data mining, and machine learning to create an algorithmic identity that uses online activity to predict “digital citizenship”; genetic advances expand the understanding of ancestry and migration history—which has been labeled “genetic citizenship”; blockchain technologies undermine the concept of the state and enable the creation of a decentralized “cloud citizenship”; and although the granting of citizenship by Saudi Arabia to a Robot named Sophia was a marketing ploy to lure investors, there is a growing body of literature on “robot rights.” Technological advances will change the way people perceive communities and identities, membership and belonging. The COVID-19 crisis has triggered a new wave of digitalization of the lives of citizens.

The project has two sets of questions. The first question is empirical: what is cybernetic citizenship—its characteristics, functions, and consequences? What are the transformations brought about by cybernetic citizenship to existing citizenship frameworks (liberal, communitarian, and republican) and dimensions (status, rights, identity, and participation), as well as to the current understanding of “sovereignty,” “governance,” and “state”? The second is question normative: is cybernetic citizenship morally justified? A focus is given to moral excellence, autonomous choice, democratic participation, and conformity. On the whole, the project invites the reader to consider the technological challenges that will shape the institution of citizenship in the 21st century, as demonstrated by the coronavirus crisis.

Visit this project page for related research.

Back to top