Institute of Rural Studies

Deputy Director


Anja Herkner

Bundesallee 64
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5501
Fax: +49 531 596 5599

Institute of Rural Economics

Deputy Director

  • NN

Digitalization and social services in rural areas


Use of a tablet on countryside background (c) eggeeggjiew -
Use of a tablet on countryside background (© eggeeggjiew -

Impacts of digitalization on the voluntary and professional organization of social services in rural areas

With changing population structures social services face new demands. Rural areas often encounter special challenges. Can digitalization help to meet them?

Background and Objective

Electronic casework, digital volunteering, Social Work 4.0. – social organizations are confronted with a number of new possibilities to organize their services. Just how digitalization will change the supply and transform the services themselves is still unclear. Whether these changes will lead to long-term improvements and which new forms of coordination between professionals, volunteers and clients will be established depends on many factors.

The goal of the project is to gain knowledge on the impact of digitalization on social supplies in rural areas. Of particular interest are the possibilities and obstacles of digitalization in dependence of the organization of social supplies.


A literature review and a theoretical field-based analysis will show possible development trends and ambivalences. The research assumes that digitalization has different effects depending on its implementation and the local organization of social supplies. That is why spatial dimensions and organizational types are of special interest.

Building upon the theoretical work, a concept will be drawn for further empirical research. Here the following questions, among other, emerge:

  • What is the significance of digitalization for the organization of social supplies in rural areas?
  • What is the role of digitalization for voluntary and professional social supply?
  • Which possibilities or obstacles for agency and participation arise for the actors involved?


Involved Thünen-Partners


9.2018 - 9.2020

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: finished

Publications to the project

hits: 0