Photo of Elin Wihlborg

Elin Wihlborg


I am professor in political science and examine how the digitalisation of society affects interaction between political structures and the everyday life of citizens. The research focus is that changes are to be sustainable, inclusive and democratic.

New forms for politics – sustainable administration with new technology

Our research focusses on how digitalisation changes society in general, and its public agencies in particular. Digitalisation affects our everyday life, and must be sustainable and compatible with our democratic values.

Political science focusses on people’s values, and their desires about how to organise the shared elements of society. However, today we must focus, deepen and improve theories about how digitalisation interacts with the remoulding and development of public values. Our research group analyses how the institutions of society are changing, and how power is expressed in public governance and organisation. Our starting point is that digitalisation and society affect each other in mutual interaction. We are currently working in three areas, described in more detail in the projects detailed below.

All our research is carried out in close collaboration with other organisations in society, students and creative people, in order to ensure the relevance and utilisation of what we do. Academic freedom is crucial for creativity and the advancement of knowledge. In my management role at LiU, I am driven by a desire to increase academic freedom based on democratic values in order to build creative meetings, and thus meet the challenges of the future in a more sustainable manner.

The fundamental values of the digital society

The first theme concerns the fundamental values of the digital society. On a firm foundation of perspectives of democracy and public administration from political science, we analyse how the fundamental values of democracy change in relationship to digital solutions and services. These services are currently characterised by a high degree of individualism, market orientation and commercialisation. But what happens to the way we regard public life and mutual interests when these are digitalised? How does our understanding of what is private and public change? How are new limits set? Who owns our personal information and how can common values be utilised? We base our examination of these questions on extensive high-quality field studies in the operations of municipal and other publicly financed bodies, with a focus on service development, automation and security.

Inclusion in digital societies

One subtheme of the theme described above focusses on strategies to increase inclusion in digital societies. The use of new technology is ever-spreading as a continuous front of progress and development, which meets and interacts with the behaviour and social contexts of people. Many people and communities stand in the shadows of those who have the expertise, ability and resources to adopt new technology with ease. The many new applications of digitalisation are accompanied by continuous redefinition of the borders between those who are inside and those who are outside. Traditional correlations between socio-economic parameters such as income, education and age are now no longer sufficient to explain digital and social divides, and even less so to address them. We work together with libraries and the Digidel network to increase knowledge and support societal development for increased digital inclusion. Together with the Swedish National Digitalisation Council, we have recently delivered to the government a report into digital skills, containing suggestions how to increase inclusion in the digitalisation process.

The power of digitalisation for change

Our third research theme deals with placing the power of digitalisation for change relative to urban and regional planning for sustainable development with a particular focus on political management at all levels: from global development goals to growth and creativity in local communities. This, of course, brings us back to questions about public values, power and governance in the digital society. This theme also deals with how to ensure that as many as possible can be included in the sustainable digital society, and how it can develop in a democratic and inclusive manner. We collaborate with the Swedish Institute to educate young professionals in eastern Europe in sustainable digital public administration.



Olga Matveieva, Tetiana Mamatova, Yevgen Borodin, Mariana S. Gustafsson, Elin Wihlborg, Serhiy Kvitka (2024) Digital Government in Conditions of War: Governance Challenges and Revitalized Collaboration between Local Authorities and Civil Society in Provision of Public Services in Ukraine Proceedings of the 57th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, p. 2002-2012 Continue to DOI
Carl-Johan Sommar, Johan Nordensvärd, Elin Wihlborg, Fredrik Garcia (2024) Autonomy and paternalism - framing Swedish COVID-19 restriction policy Critical Policy Studies Continue to DOI


Ahmed Kaharevic, Elin Wihlborg (2023) Fler sidor av digital medieanvändning bland unga i bostadsområden med socioekonomiska utmaningar: En forskningsöversikt och diskussion om metoder genomförd på uppdrag av Statens medieråd


Short facts

Summary CV

  • Professor, 2012
  • Docent in political science, 2006
  • Doctor’s degree in Technology and Social Change, Linköping University, 2000
  • Master’s degree in Gender and Social Policy, London School of Economics, 1995

Additional tasks

  • Head of Division of Political Science
  • Chair of the Research and Research Education Council at IEI
  • Member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Educational Council at Linköping University
  • Member of University Board at Linköping University
  • Member of editorial council for the journal Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift

Other awards

In the period 2011-2015, I held a Marie Curie scholarship within the Vinnmer programme.


PhD students I supervise