This article presents a detailed case study of “RoboDebt” in Australia and examines the political rationalities that underpin automated welfare surveillance systems. First, it is argued that neoliberal political rationalities shape the bureaucratic strategies enacted by agencies established to administer neoliberal welfare policy. Second, it is shown that neoliberal political rationalities influence the design and deployment of new surveillance technologies, and therefore they are embedded with and within politics too. Third, it is argued that the political architecture of the welfare state and associated use of information communication technologies has consequences for social justice. This article demonstrates that information communication technologies are implicated in the neoliberal governance of poverty but are not responsible for it. The article concludes by reflecting on the relevance of critical qualitative inquiry as one possible political intervention to advance social (and data) justice agendas.

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