Connected citizens passive outsider

Meet the Passive Outsiders

These unenthusiastic users of technology pose a challenge to the acceleration of digital government.

This persona description forms part of the EY Connected Citizens series, which outlines seven global citizen personas that governments must plan for when developing digital services.

Passive Outsiders have low levels of income and education. They are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with life but are generally reluctant to embrace change. Financial security and having a steady job are key concerns, along with personal safety. Passive Outsiders are self-contained and engage very little with wider social issues. This remoteness extends to public services, which they use relatively little and are apathetic toward. They don’t think technology has changed their lives much and are unconvinced that it has the power to make their lives better. They are relatively ambivalent about sharing their data but tend to feel that the risks outweigh the benefits.

Passive Outsiders are our smallest segment, at 8% of the total, and are prevalent in Germany, France and Japan.

Meet Lina – a Passive Outsider

Lina represents our Passive Outsiders segment. Thirty-five years old and single, she lives in a small town east of Berlin, near Germany’s border with Poland. Lina works on a relatively low income as an administrator at a department store chain. She is worried that her job is becoming less secure due to the risk of retail closures and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lina spends most of her time by herself or with her small circle of friends. She has few connections with her local community, despite having lived there all her life. She doesn’t feel fulfilled in her life and is pessimistic about the future. Having lived through the financial crisis more than a decade ago, she knows how quickly the world can change without warning, often for the worse. But she feels powerless to take charge of her own life and instead accepts the way things are.

Looking to the future, Lina worries about her chances of finding a new, more stable job and achieving better financial security. She is aware that some of the younger employees in her store are able to adapt more quickly to the new technology that is being introduced in the store. But she lacks the confidence to proactively seek out new opportunities and experiences to improve her skills.

Lina’s personal safety is important to her quality of life and she feels concerned about rising levels of crime in her town. She thinks improving local health care services, building more affordable housing and creating better job opportunities are the most important areas for improvement. But she has relatively little trust in the government or public service providers to actually improve the lives of people like her.

Lina rarely uses public services, except for health, transport and routine administrative tasks such as completing tax returns. She may be entitled to more support from government, such as retraining opportunities, but hasn’t taken steps to find out. When she does have to make contact with government, she likes to do so by phone or even in person, but increasingly finds it easier to use a website or send an email. She is relatively satisfied with the public services she receives, but thinks they should provide more value for money. She is generally apathetic toward government, taking little interest in how public services work in her area and lacking any firm opinions on how they could be improved.

A competent but unenthusiastic user of technology, Lina owns a smartphone and laptop, which she relies on for a variety of activities such as shopping for groceries, listening to music and checking the news and weather. But she doesn’t plan to spend her limited resources on new gadgets such as smart appliances. She is fairly ambivalent about whether technology can do much to improve her own situation or solve society’s problems, including providing equal opportunity for the most disadvantaged citizens.

Lina is uncomfortable sharing her personal data to access a service or perform an online transaction, whether that is with government or the private sector. And she is not convinced about the merits of her data being shared by government agencies. She feels she doesn’t know enough about the implications but is inclined to think that the risks outweigh the benefits.

Lina is also unlikely to embrace any newer technologies to access public services, primarily because she does not know enough about them or how they might affect her life. She’s not keen on routine video calls with her doctor or using technology to participate in consultations about local issues. And although she would like to save time by not having to repeat her details in various interactions with government, she is against having a digital citizen ID.

Question for government: How does government help Passive Outsiders to become more engaged in their own lives and make sure they are accessing the services they need?

Technical notes about the Connected Citizens study

These profiles are a representation of what a typical member of each segment might look like, based on the data from the EY Connected Citizens survey, constructed to illustrate some of the key characteristics of the segment. The Connected Citizens survey was carried out by Ipsos MORI for EY between July 2020 and September 2020. Interviews took place online with 12,100 participants of working age across 12 countries. Quotas were set by age, gender, region and working status in order to achieve a representative sample in each country. Data was weighted by age, gender, region, working status and education to correct for imbalances in the national samples. As the survey was carried out online, samples in emerging markets are likely to be more urban, educated and connected than the overall population. All surveys are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.


Passive Outsiders participate very little in society. They rarely engage with government and are skeptical about the power of technology to make things better. People in this segment are concerned about job security and their ability to earn a living in the future. But they don’t take action to do something about it – and their lack of engagement means they risk missing out on government support to which they might be entitled. The challenge for government is to help the Passive Outsiders to help themselves.

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