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Hackathons and the Practices and Possibilities of Participation

The Right to the Smart City

ISBN: 978-1-78769-140-7, eISBN: 978-1-78769-139-1

Publication date: 7 June 2019


Smart city developments have been subjected to technocratic envisioning and neoliberal urban developments. However, there have been attempts to reclaim the right to the city through organizing civic initiatives to widen the access to the making of future technologies and cities. This chapter draws on Mouffe’s concept of agonistic relations to explore the diversifying ideals, rhetoric, and practices of hackathon organization to consider how they might cooperate with or contest one another and provide alternative means to technology and city making. The chapter analyzes different ways of organizing hackathons and discusses the opportunities for participants with diverse social backgrounds, knowledges and technical competences to join and work together. By examining the conflictual positions, articulations, and arrangements to widen participation, the chapter suggests that more open, inclusive, and collaborative city-making events might be possible. Further work is needed to examine conflictual hackathon participation practices and other civic initiatives to pursue a more egalitarian smart city.




The chapter is supported by The Programmable City project, funded by a European Research Council Advanced Investigator award (ERC-2012-AdG-323636-SOFTCITY) and a Ulysses award co-funded by the Irish Research Council and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I am grateful for the productive comments from the editors and the participants of The Right to the Smart City and Ulysses knowledge exchange workshops.


Perng, S.-Y. (2019), "Hackathons and the Practices and Possibilities of Participation", Cardullo, P., Di Feliciantonio, C. and Kitchin, R. (Ed.) The Right to the Smart City, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 135-149.



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