Social Construction of GIS and Networks of Association for Urban e-governance – The case of an Urban Local Body in India

Authors: Falguni Mukherjee*, Sam Houston State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Urban Geography
Keywords: Urban governance, GIS, South Asia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Stones Throw 2 - Slate, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the past decade, India has witnessed rapid urban transformation leading to a changing urban governance culture in the country. This has prompted a growing push towards informationization of government practices coupled with the government’s ambition of building an information infrastructure. Urban local bodies in particular, have become the arena for implementation of planning policies conceptualized by the central government as it strives to manage the urban population and fulfill its IT ambitions. In this process, there has been a growing use of GIS and spatial technologies by Indian urban local bodies. However, GIS use by Indian ULBs is highly uneven and variable. This unevenness can be explained by using literature on critical GIS and politics of scale. Critical GIS highlights the importance of power relations and institutional structures in an organization’s GIS practices while politics of scale helps to understand the complexities of network formation and power relations embedded in such networks that facilitate an organization’s GIS use. Through an in-depth case study of Surat Municipal Corporation, this study demonstrates that active construction of scalar politics and networks of association is key in a ULB’s attempts towards spatial engagement. SMC constructs thematic and territorial networks of association to procure material and discursive resources and uses “scale jumping” as a representational strategy to garner political influence. Such a strategy enables SMC to form alliances with key actors and navigate power structures facilitating their GIS use, reflecting the politicized nature of GIS constructions for urban governance by an Indian ULB.

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