Reaching out for the hard to reach – investigating digital exclusion of adult citizens in the Nordic countries

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The increasing digitisation in the Nordic countries changes everyday life for the citizens such as doing one's own bank affairs, contacting the health system, and communicating with public services; but it also changes the communication practises that are actors in democratic participation and increasingly unfolds on social media which give the access to engage in political debate. Covid19 has accelerated a digital development that has been going on for a long time and in different ways exposed a perspective on education in which a sensitivity towards the precariousness that the so-called digital transformation brings is necessary. Many adapt to the new conditions, however 25-35 % of Nordic citizens are considered digital excluded (European Commission 2020). Digital inclusion is considered not only to be a practical challenge, but also a democratic problem (Nordic Council of Ministers 2022). How can the Nordic countries proceed as democracies based on an involvement of the citizens' voices if a quarter of them are unable to handle the tools for communicating or to access the relevant fora? How do we balance between digital development and maintenance of human integrity both for those who are considered digitally included and for those who are in danger of being digitally excluded from society?
In this symposium we wish to address digitalisation in light of its gradually effect on our everyday life with a particular focus on those who are in danger of being excluded due to a digital evolution driven by a mix of the different countries' networked readiness to be implemented on a micro level (Networked readiness index 2021), the emergence of still new versions of digital devices to be handled, and a continuous demand for human readiness for change and adaptability penetrating deep into the private sphere (Nordic Council of Ministers 2022).
We understand and use the concept of digital exclusion as situations where citizens experience digitale obstacles for overcoming their everyday life in terms of access to public services and possibility for raising their democratic voice. We wish to discuss
the conditions for and possibilities to reach out to citizens who are difficult to reach and who are participants in a civil society that is being increasingly digitised. The three contributions address the challenges of digital exclusion but also suggest approaches for contributing to learning inclusion. The first presents a desk research mapping of policy endeavours and educational initiatives in the Nordic region and outlines common endeavours but different strategies in the countries. The next contribution presents a research-based learning design which has been co-developed together with migrants, refugees and educators emphasising social inclusion and empowerment. The third contribution argues that citizens must be seen as a resource in solving the problem of digital exclusion based on identification of several material actors as organisers of issues being in situations involving citizens and digital technology.
European Commission (2020). Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Human capital
Networked readiness index (2021). Analysis. Benchmarking the future of the network economy. (retrieved 150222)
Nordic Council of Ministers (2022). Monitoring digital inclusion in the Nordic-Baltic region. (retrieved 150222)
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventNordic Educational Research Association 2022: Education and involvement in precarious times - Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 1 Jun 20223 Jun 2022


ConferenceNordic Educational Research Association 2022
Internet address


  • Digital Inclusion
  • Hard to reach learners
  • Digital transformation
  • Adult learners
  • Citizen empowerment
  • Citizen involvement


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