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One of the key normative questions that critical smart city scholars pose is if, and how, politically meaningful agency of citizens in the neoliberal smart city is…
One of the key normative questions that critical smart city scholars pose is if, and how, politically meaningful agency of citizens in the neoliberal smart city is possible? The Lefebvrian concept of the “right to the city” proves particularly fruitful in this endeavor, as it allows for imaging ways and possibilities in which citizens can assert the use value of the city over the exchange value, and thus affirm the social “urban” over the economic “city.” This chapter seeks to contribute to this quest for and imaginations of politically meaningful agency in the neoliberal smart city. First, it does so by arguing that what smart city scholarship typically considers as politically meaningful interventions into the neoliberal smart city are too often initiatives that are strongly influenced by peoples’ and cities’ access to specific and unevenly distributed resources, like technological or political literacies and economic (infra-) structures. Therefore, and second, the chapter proposes that we look for critical interventions into the neoliberal smart city by “ordinary citizens” elsewhere, namely, in urban inhabitants’ everyday readings of the promotional and performative narrative of the neoliberal smart city.
This chapter provides an introduction to the smart city and engages with its idea and ideals from a critical social science perspective. After setting out in brief the…
This chapter provides an introduction to the smart city and engages with its idea and ideals from a critical social science perspective. After setting out in brief the emergence of smart cities and current key debates, we note a number of practical, political, and normative questions relating to citizenship, social justice, and the public good that warrant examination. The remainder of the chapter provides an initial framing for engaging with these questions. The first section details the dominant neoliberal conception and enactment of smart cities and how this works to promote the interests of capital and state power and reshape governmentality. We then detail some of the more troubling ethical issues associated with smart city technologies and initiatives. Having set out some of the more troubling aspects of how social relations are produced within smart cities, we then examine how citizens and citizenship have been conceived and operationalized in the smart city to date. We then follow this with a discussion of social justice and the smart city. In the fifth section, we explore the notion of the “right to the smart city” and how this might be used to recast the smart city in emancipatory and empowering ways. Finally, we set out how the book seeks to answer our questions and extend our initial framing, exploring the extent to which the “right to the city” should be a fundamental principle of smart city endeavors.