CFP: ’Complexity of power in the smart city’
A Special Issue for The International Communication Gazette
The ever more pervasive digitalization of physical infrastructures with the rapid proliferation of the ‘internet of everything’ has amplified the nature of cities as media, i.e. as technologically mediated communicative systems. A prime example of ICT-infused urban developments is the so-called Smart City – a successfully marketed and globally prominent model for the city of the future. In the smart city scenarios, cities function like computers, optimized to manage any problems of urban life with automated and sustainable efficiency. In terms of communication, what these visions epitomize is an urge to create a frictionless cybernetic organism – a desire that calls for a (self-)reflexive reassessment of cybernetics and systems theory in the field of contemporary communication and media studies.
There is plenty of critical research on the smart city as trademarked and promoted by technology companies, such as Cisco, HP, IBM and Microsoft, in collaboration with the public sector and other corporate actors. In this special issue, we refer with the notion ‘smart’ more broadly to the ubiquitous role that software and algorithms have come to play, together and as entangled with material structures, in the sociotechnical constitution of urban environments, and spurred by the profit seeking economic logic that drives technology development worldwide. Proceeding from the observation that ‘smartness’ not only renders cities spatially multiple but also involves human actors in the production of space in historically novel ways, we focus on how power is reconfigured as part of this process.
The starting point of addressing the complexification of spatial power in the special issue is dual. On the one hand, smart urban management creates unpredictable, often uncontrollable and conflictual, tendencies that present new challenges to the established policies and practices of city planning. On the other hand, the deepening digital mediation profoundly affects how ordinary city dwellers contribute to urban power dynamics. As regards the latter, one pertinent question concerns the incorporation of smart devices with their multiple computational and networked affordances into urbanites’ taken for granted bodily behaviour and their daily movements and (inter)actions.
Focus of the special issue
Against the above background, we are looking for 2–3 complementary articles to a special issue (to be published by the International Communication Gazette) on the complexity of power in the digitally mediated contemporary cities. We invite contributions from researchers in different disciplines, interested in the power implications of the entangled technological, economic and political urban developments. In addition to communication and media studies, submissions from the fields of STS, sociology, geography, urban studies, architecture and game studies, among others, are most welcome.
The articles should address in one way or another the following aspects of spatial power in the contemporary urban context (or any other dimension, including historical, that may relate to our rationale):
* complexity of cities as a challenge to urban planning and design as well as to urban planning theory;
* potential of fictional methods and playful design in transforming strategically motivated and top down planning practices;
* the role of urbanites’ mediated bodily activities in the spatial production;
* interests and values underlying the smart city scenarios;
* reconfiguration of urban spatial power as a challenge to communication research and media theory.
The special issue will explore these and related questions by bringing together contributions from both experienced scholars and researchers who are at an early stage of their career. We welcome both theoretical, methodological and empirical submissions. The publication of the special issue is scheduled for August 2019.
May 8th: deadline for submission of abstracts (300–500 words) to the guest editors
June 1st: notification of abstract acceptance
July 15th: deadline for submitting an extended abstract/article outline (about 1200 words) to the guest editors
August 31st: guest editors’ comments on extended abstracts; manuscript instructions and a more detailed production timeline
Include in the abstract a list of key references and a short bio.
Please submit your abstract by e-mail to the guest editors:
For any enquiry please contact the guest editors.