The Social Construction of Self-Sovereign Identity: An Extended Model of Interpretive Flexibility

Date
2022-01-04
Authors
Weigl, Linda
Barbereau, Tom
Rieger, Alexander
Fridgen, Gilbert
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Abstract
User-centric identity management systems are gaining momentum as concerns about Big Tech and Big Government rise. Many of these systems are framed as offering Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI). Yet, competing appropriation and the social embedding of SSI have resulted in diverging interpretations. These vague and value-laden interpretations can damage the public discourse and risk misrepresenting values and affordances that technology offers to users. To unpack the various social and technical understandings of SSI, we adopt an ‘interpretive flexibility’ lens. Based on a qualitative inductive interview study, we find that SSI’s interpretation is strongly mediated by surrounding institutional properties. Our study helps to better navigate these different perceptions and highlights the need for a multidimensional framework that can improve the understanding of complex socio-technical systems for digital government practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers.
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Emerging Topics in Digital Government, digital government, electronic identification, interpretive flexibility, self-sovereign identity
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