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Recent European welfare reforms have reconfigured solidarity in an individualised mode, a mode where an individual’s characteristics, lifestyle and history are to be taken into account in service allocation. Through most of the twentieth century solidarity worked across much of Europe as a means of defining the context, limits and justification of state intervention and the conceptual grounds for social legislation designed to absorb the greater risks faced by certain members of society. By the 1990s, this had shifted as the basic human desires for decent housing, healthcare, education and security began to be cast as a matter of individual market-based choices not solidaristic social policies. This was a context primed for ‘big tech solutionism’ and the claim that data analyses on intimate and super-massive, dynamic and historical scales would provide a new way of addressing stubborn, difficult and expensive societal problems.
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