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In many countries, the introduction of new forms of identity management (IDM) in government, such as identity cards, smart cards or web-based e-authentication solutions, is receiving a lot of attention. Critics of these initiatives generally point at the expected outcome of substantial information imbalances between government and citizens. Clearly, newly formed, ICT-facilitated information relationships between government and citizens would not only need a reorganization of the e-government service domain itself but also a reconsideration of citizens' rights and responsibilities. However, to be able to address these issues adequately, we first need to gain further empirical understanding about what changes are happening to information relationships between citizens and government as a result of the introduction of new forms of IDM in e-government service provision. So far however there is not much empirical knowledge available about what changes are occurring both within and to these flows of information in new e-government service relationships between citizens and government. Accompanying these changes, important questions arise as to how, and to what extent, new forms of IDM have an effect upon what may be called the 'administrative sorting' activities of governments: those classifying processes caused by administrative systems and depending on the values embedded in those systems, which are necessary to the establishment of service relationships with citizens. What, then, are the effects on the citizen of administrative sorting in digitized service relationships, when set against the traditional concept of citizenship? This article reports on empirical findings derived from case study research on new forms of IDM in UK e-government. Moreover it seeks to conceptualize 'administrative sorting' and 'IDM' in e-government service relationships with citizens, also compared to traditional forms of IDM in the 'paper-based era' of public service provision, and explores what the implications are for the citizen and citizenship.
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Keywords: administrative sorting; citizen; citizenship; e-government; identity management; social sorting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Information Management & School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand 2: Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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