Positionality, Interests, and Rationalities of the Smart City: Intersecting Roles of Smart City Actors

Authors: Byron Miller*, University of Calgary, Ryan Burns, University of Calgary
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Theory, Cyberinfrastructure
Keywords: smart cities, positionality, interests, rationalities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Smart cities, incorporating the widespread collection of digital data and algorithmic processing, represent a powerful new means of coordinating social action of all sorts. Social action can and must be understood from a variety of actor-positions, with each actor playing a specific role, or roles. Not only do smart city actors occupy different positions, they also have different interests, and frequently follow different rationalities. Interests of smart city actors, for example, may include the technical and efficient functioning of the city, communication of social and individual needs, and rectification of inequities of resources and power. Depending on the actor, some interests may come to the fore and others may be ignored, yet as actors in a shared city, points of intersection inevitably occur. It is these points of intersection that provide opportunities for critically-oriented scholars and technically oriented scholars and practitioners to engage with each other. Virtually all forms of social action coordination involve technical, communicative, and power relations simultaneously. Drawing on our experiences in Calgary and elsewhere, we explore some of the opportunities and difficulties in working at the intersections of these diverse smart city interests and actor-positions.

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