Global Technology Companies and the Politics of Urban Socio-technical Imaginaries in the Digital Age: Processual proxies, Trojan horses and global beachheads

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, we take the concept of ‘new urban spaces’ as our jumping off point to engage with the efforts of Alphabet/Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs to cultivate a new integrated digital and infrastructural urban space on the Toronto waterfront. We interrogate the process and politics of imagining this new, digital urban space as an urban socio-technical imaginary. The paper critically examines the central role of ‘big tech’ in producing the urban socio-technical imaginary not as a snapshot but, rather, as a ‘process of becoming’. This processual focus on the role of big tech allows us to develop three interrelated analytical contributions. First, we generate in-depth understanding of the proxy politics of urban socio-technical imaginaries in constituting new digital urban spaces. Second, we argue that an urban socio-technical imaginary was used as a Trojan horse to promote private experimentation with urban governance. Third, we demonstrate attempts to imagine a global beachhead via ‘the global model’ of a new digital urban space predicated on the digital control of integrated urban infrastructure systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment & Planning A
Early online date16 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2021

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Global Technology Companies and the Politics of Urban Socio-technical Imaginaries in the Digital Age: Processual proxies, Trojan horses and global beachheads'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this