A code for care and control: The PIN as an operator of interoperability in the Nordic welfare state

AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access piece in History of the Human Sciences: “A code for care and control: The PIN as an operator of interoperability in the Nordic welfare state,” by Marja Alastalo, Ilpo HelĂ©n. Abstract:

Many states make use of personal identity numbers (PINs) to govern people living in their territory and jurisdiction, but only a few rely on an all-purpose PIN used throughout the public and private sectors. This article examines the all-purpose PIN in Finland as a political technology that brings people to the sphere of public welfare services and subjects them to governance by public authorities and expert institutions. Drawing on documentary materials and interviews, it unpacks the history and uses of the PIN as an elementary building block of the Nordic welfare state, and its emerging uses in the post-welfare data economy. The article suggests that, although the PIN is capable of individualizing, identifying, and addressing individuals, its most important and widely embraced feature is the extent to which it enables interoperability among public authorities, private businesses, and their data repositories. Interoperability, together with advances in computing and information technology, has made the PIN a facilitator of public administration, state knowledge production, and everyday life. More recently, in the post-welfare data economy, interoperability has rendered the PIN a national asset in all the Nordic countries, providing a great advantage to biomedical research, innovation business, and healthcare.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.