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The smart city and other ICT-led techno-imaginaries: Any room for dialogue with degrowth?

Hug March

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Scientific paper

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Abstract: The 21st century has been hailed as the urban century and one in which ICT-led transformations will shape urban responses to global environmental change. The Smart City encapsulates all the desires and prospects on the transformative and disruptive role technology will have in solving urban issues both in Global North and Global South cities. Critical scholarship has pointed out that private capital, with the blessing of technocratic elites, has found a techno-environmental fix to both reshuffle economic growth and prevent other alternative politico-ecological transitions to take root in urban systems. Against this bleak outlook, the paper argues that these technological assemblages might be compatible with alternative post-capitalist urban transformations aligned with Degrowth. Through a cross-reading of research on Smart Cities with theoretical perspectives drawn from the literature on Degrowth, I suggest that Degrowth should not refrain from engaging with urban technological imaginaries in a critical and selective way. As the paper shows through alternative uses of Smart technologies and digital open-source fabrication, the question is not so much around technology per se but around the wider politico-economic context into which these technological assemblages are embedded.

Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 197 (part 2), October 2018, pp. 1694-1703

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