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Publication date: 7 August 2019

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Thinking Infrastructures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-558-0

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 10 March 2022

Tomas Träskman

The paper explores the emergence of smart city governance with a particular focus on the cognitive value of the new technologies and the different accountabilities…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper explores the emergence of smart city governance with a particular focus on the cognitive value of the new technologies and the different accountabilities emerging in the digital infrastructures attempting to visualize and rationalize urban dynamics.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on ethnographic, netnographic and interview data from an empirical case study of the Smart and Wise City Turku spearhead project, the study builds on the assumption that smart cities emerge from the interaction between the characteristics of technologies, constellations of actors and contextual conditions.

Findings

The results report smart city activities as an organizational process and a reconfiguration that incorporates new technology with old infrastructure. Through the lens of the empirical examples, we are able to show how smart city actors, boundaries and infrastructures are mobilized, become valuable and are rendered visible. The smart cities infrastructure traces, values and governs actors, identities, objects, ideas and relations to animate new desires and feats of imagination.

Practical implications

In terms of implications to practice, the situated descriptions echo recent calls to leaders and managers to ask how much traceability is enough (Power, 2019) and limits of accountability (Messner, 2009).

Originality/value

The central theoretical concept of “thinking infrastructure” highlights how new accounting practices operate by disclosing (Kornberger et al., 2017) new worlds where the platforms and the users discover the nature of their responsibilities to the other. The contribution of this paper is that it examines what happens when smartness is understood as a thinking infrastructure. Different theorizations of infrastructure have implications for the study of smart cities. The lens helps us grasp possible tensions and consequences in terms of accountability that arise from new forms of participation in smart cities. It helps urban governance scholarship understand how smartness informs and shapes distributed and embodied cognition.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 34 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 7 August 2019

Dane Pflueger, Tommaso Palermo and Daniel Martinez

This chapter explores the ways in which a large-scale accounting system, known as Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting and Compliance, contributes to the construction…

Abstract

This chapter explores the ways in which a large-scale accounting system, known as Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting and Compliance, contributes to the construction and organization of a new market for recreational cannabis in the US state of Colorado. Mobilizing the theoretical lenses provided by the literature on market devices, on the one hand, and infrastructure, on the other hand, the authors identify and unpack a changing relationship between accounting and state control through which accounting and markets unfold. The authors describe this movement in terms of a distinction between knowing devices and thinking infrastructures. In the former, the authors show that regulators and other authorities perform the market by making it legible for the purpose of intervention, taxation and control. In the latter, thinking infrastructures, an ecology of interacting devices is made and remade by a variety of intermediaries, disclosing the boundaries and possibilities of the market, and constituting both opportunities for innovation and domination through “protocol.”

Details

Thinking Infrastructures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-558-0

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 7 August 2019

Roser Pujadas and Daniel Curto-Millet

While digital platforms tend to be unproblematically presented as the infrastructure of the sharing economy – as matchmakers of supply and demand – the authors argue that…

Abstract

While digital platforms tend to be unproblematically presented as the infrastructure of the sharing economy – as matchmakers of supply and demand – the authors argue that constituting the boundaries of infrastructures is political and performative, that is, it is implicated in ontological politics, with consequences for the distribution of responsibilities (Latour, 2003; Mol, 1999, 2013; Woolgar & Lezaun, 2013). Drawing on an empirical case study of Uber, including an analysis of court cases, the authors investigate the material-discursive production of digital platforms and their participation in the reconfiguring of the world (Barad, 2007), and examine how the (in)visibility of the digital infrastructure is mobilized (Larkin, 2013) to this effect. The authors argue that the representation of Uber as a “digital platform,” as “just the technological infrastructure” connecting car drivers with clients, is a political act that attempts to redefine social responsibilities, while obscuring important dimensions of the algorithmic infrastructure that regulates this socioeconomic practice. The authors also show how some of these (in)visibilities become exposed in court, and some of the boundaries reshaped, with implications for the constitution of objects, subjects and their responsibilities. Thus, while thinking infrastructures do play a role in regulating and shaping practice through algorithms, it could be otherwise. Thinking infrastructures relationally decentre digital platforms and encourage us to study them as part of ongoing and contested entanglements in practice.

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Thinking Infrastructures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-558-0

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 7 August 2019

Hans Kjellberg, Johan Hagberg and Franck Cochoy

This chapter explores the concept of market infrastructure, which is tentatively defined as a materially heterogeneous arrangement that silently supports and structures…

Abstract

This chapter explores the concept of market infrastructure, which is tentatively defined as a materially heterogeneous arrangement that silently supports and structures the consummation of market exchanges. Specifically, the authors investigate the enactment of market infrastructure in the US grocery retail sector by exploring how barcodes and related devices contributed to modify its market infrastructure during the period 1967–2010. Combining this empirical case with insights from previous research, the authors propose that market infrastructures are relational, available for use, modular, actively maintained, interdependent, commercial, emergent and political. The authors argue that this conception of market infrastructure provides a powerful tool for unveiling the complex agencements and engineering efforts that underpin seemingly superficial, individual and isolated market exchanges.

Book part
Publication date: 7 August 2019

Céline Cholez and Pascale Trompette

Over the past three decades, new off-grid electrification infrastructures – as micro-grids and other solar solutions – have moved from innovative initiatives, conducted by…

Abstract

Over the past three decades, new off-grid electrification infrastructures – as micro-grids and other solar solutions – have moved from innovative initiatives, conducted by NGOs and private stakeholders, to a credible model promoted by international organizations for electrification of rural areas in developing countries. Multiple conditions support their spread: major technological advances in the field of renewable energies (panels, batteries), intensive Chinese industrial production allowing lower prices, institutional reforms in Africa including these solutions in major national electrification programmes, and, finally, an opening to the private sector as a supposed guarantee of the projects’ viability. However, while the development of this market calls for significant investments, a vast set of calculations and a strong “micro-capitalist” doctrine, all involved in their design, experts admit that a large proportion of projects hardly survive or even fail.

This chapter investigates these failures by exploring the ecology of such infrastructures, designed for “the poor.” It discusses “thinking infrastructures” in terms of longevity by focusing on economic failures risks. The authors argue that the ecology of the infrastructure integrates various economic conversions and exchanges chains expected to participate in the infrastructure’s functioning. By following energy access solutions for rural Africa in sub-regions of Senegal and Madagascar, from their political and technical design to their ordinary life, the authors examine the tensions and contradictions embedded within the scripts of balance supposed to guarantee their success.

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Thinking Infrastructures
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-558-0

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 7 August 2019

Andreas Folkers

The chapter analyses the role of smart grid technology in the German energy transition. Information technologies promise to help integrate volatile renewable energies…

Abstract

The chapter analyses the role of smart grid technology in the German energy transition. Information technologies promise to help integrate volatile renewable energies (wind and solar power) into the grid. Yet, the promise of intelligent infrastructures does not only extend to technological infrastructures, but also to market infrastructures. Smart grid technologies underpin and foster the design of a “smart” electricity market, where dispersed energy prosumers can adapt, in real time, to fluctuating price signals that register changes in electricity generation. This could neutralize fluctuations resulting from the increased share of renewables. To critically “think” the promise of smart infrastructure, it is not enough to just focus on digital devices. Rather, it becomes necessary to scrutinize economic assumptions about the “intelligence” of markets and the technopolitics of electricity market design. This chapter will first show the historical trajectory of the technopolitical promise of renewable energy as not only a more sustainable, but also a more democratic alternative to fossil and nuclear power, by looking at the affinities between market liberal and ecological critiques of centralized fossil and nuclear based energy systems. It will then elucidate the co-construction of smart grids and smart markets in the governmental plans for an “electricity market 2.0.” Finally, the chapter will show how smart grid and smart metering technology fosters new forms of economic agency like the domo oeconomicus. Such an economic formatting of smart grid technology, however, forecloses other ecologically prudent and politically progressive ways of constructing and engaging with intelligent infrastructures.

Abstract

Details

Creating Spaces for an Ageing Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-739-6

Book part
Publication date: 7 August 2019

Liisa Kurunmäki, Andrea Mennicken and Peter Miller

Much has been made of economizing. Yet, social scientists have paid little attention to the moment of economic failure, the moments that precede it, and the calculative…

Abstract

Much has been made of economizing. Yet, social scientists have paid little attention to the moment of economic failure, the moments that precede it, and the calculative infrastructures and related processes through which both failing and failure are made operable. This chapter examines the shift from the economizing of the market economy, which took place across much of the nineteenth century, to the economizing and marketizing of the social sphere, which is still ongoing. The authors consider a specific case of the economizing of failure, namely the repeated attempts over more than a decade to create a failure regime for National Health Service (NHS) hospitals. These attempts commenced with the Health and Social Care Act 2003, which drew explicitly on the Insolvency Act 1986. This promised a “failure regime” for NHS Foundation Trusts modeled on the corporate sector. Shortly after the financial crash, and in the middle of one of the biggest scandals to face NHS hospitals, these proposals were abandoned in favor of a regime based initially on the notion of “de-authorization.” The notion of de-authorization was then itself abandoned, in favor of the notion of “unsustainable provider,” most recently also called the Trust Special Administrators regime. The authors suggest that these repeated attempts to devise a failure regime for NHS hospitals have lessons that go beyond the domain of health care, and that they highlight important issues concerning the role that “exit” models and associated calculative infrastructures may play in the economizing and regulating of public services and the social sphere more broadly.

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