The smart city as global discourse: storylines and critical junctures across 27 cities

Joss, S. , Sengers, F., Schraven, D., Caprotti, F. and Dayot, Y. (2019) The smart city as global discourse: storylines and critical junctures across 27 cities. Journal of Urban Technology, 26(1), pp. 3-34. (doi: 10.1080/10630732.2018.1558387)

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Despite its growing ubiquitous presence, the smart city continues to struggle for definitional clarity and practical import. In response, this study interrogates the smart city as global discourse network by examining a collection of key texts associated with cities worldwide. Using a list of 5,553 cities, a systematic webometric exercise was conducted to measure hit counts produced by searching for ‘smart city’. Consequently, 27 cities with the highest validated hit counts were selected. Next, 346 online texts were collected from among the top 20 hits across each of the selected cities, and comprehensively analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively using AntConc software. The findings confirm, on one hand, the presence of a strong globalising narrative which emphasises world cities as ‘best practice’ models. On the other, they reveal the smart city’s association – beyond the quest for incremental, technical improvements of current urban systems and processes – with a pronounced transformative governance agenda. The article identifies five critical junctures (interlocking discourses) at the heart of the evolving smart city discourse regime; these shed light on the ongoing boundary work in which the smart city is engaged and which contain significant unresolved tensions. The paper concludes with a discussion of resulting implications for research, policy and practice.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study was supported through the ESRC-funded project “Smart Eco-Cities for a Green Economy: A Comparative Study of Europe and China” [grant no. ES/L015978/1].
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Joss, Professor Simon
Authors: Joss, S., Sengers, F., Schraven, D., Caprotti, F., and Dayot, Y.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Research Group:Urban Studies
Journal Name:Journal of Urban Technology
Journal Abbr.:JUT
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1466-1853
Published Online:13 February 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Urban Technology 26(1):3-34
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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