University of Twente Student Theses


The Techno-Political Order of Smart Cities : An analysis through an Arendtian understanding of politics

Eren, Selen (2018) The Techno-Political Order of Smart Cities : An analysis through an Arendtian understanding of politics.

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Abstract:For business-led smart city proponents, smart urban projects are non-ideological evidence-based projects benefiting everyone. With the assistance of algorithms, they claim, politics do not have to rely on partial evidence, populist promises or intuitions anymore, but rather on objective, comprehensive and rational evidence to properly understand and address societal needs. Accordingly, citizens are viewed as producers and consumers of data, ensuring that algorithms can function. However, critical urban scholars see these supposedly non-ideological projects tarnished by neoliberalism, which subjects politics to the service of markets and creates passive citizens. They propose to include citizens more in designing cities, even though the suppliers of these projects already face problems with engaging citizens. To address such a dilemma, this thesis asks: How can an Arendtian understanding of politics contribute to analyses of politics and citizenship envisioned in smart city discussions? Such analyses require further deliberation because the source of the problems spotted by these urban scholars is, I argue, not in contemporary neoliberalism, but deeper in the roots of the Western political thought: liberalism itself. From an Arendtian perspective, if liberal assumptions concerning politics (as a means to reach the good life) and citizenship (self-interested good-life-seekers) are maintained and algorithms are perceived to outperform humans in determining how to reach the good life, then the wilful abstention of humans from politics/citizenship would only exacerbate in smart cities and lead to renouncing of human life. To avoid such a trajectory, this thesis concludes with a suggestion to explore a meaning of politics/citizenship beyond the liberal one.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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