Open data and smart London governmentality: thinking through discourse, infrastructure and citizenship

Tavmen, Güneş (2019) Open data and smart London governmentality: thinking through discourse, infrastructure and citizenship. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This dissertation studies the ways in which smart city discourses and technologies distribute power by focusing on open data initiatives in the context of urban realm. Instead of encapsulating smart cities as a project concocted and imposed by corporate forces, I discuss these initiatives as co-developing within a network of relations that are always in formation. Using governmentality as the analytical grid, I focus on various constituents of smart London to reveal what drives these initiatives, and what social and cultural implications they have. Therefore, as opposed to identifying open data as a tool that inexorably yields transparency, accountability and citizen participation, I focus on how its contingent and complex nature unfolds in the processes and performativities of discourse, infrastructure and citizenship. As a result, besides arguing that open data has been an apparatus to mobilise an entrepreneurial city, I also attend to instances where these initiatives reveal the manifold ways in which data-driven urbanism is materialised, enacted and re-iterated. In order to provide a background to emerging concepts in data-driven London, firstly, I attempt a genealogy of the intertwined development of urban planning, data technologies and urban subjectivities by looking at cybernetics and neoliberal governmentality. Following this, I examine the discourse on open data in the UK, whereby I argue that open data is an apparatus in mobilising an entrepreneurial and technocratic London, and to advance this argument I study the Open Data Institute. To further examine the ramifications of this entrepreneurial agenda, I take Citymapper, the transport app, as a case study. Subsequently, I argue that infrastructure is transduced by data, and therefore, I posit the term data/infrastructure while also questioning the implications of this for urban management. Lastly, I discuss the interfaces of open data regarding their potential to facilitate citizenship acts. Thinking through the concept of ‘smart citizenship’, I also follow an activist/politician/radical figure, Rosalind Readhead, in her quest to ban private cars in London. Consequently, I argue that with an emphasis being placed on data rather than citizenship, applications of open data foreclose effective engagement with city politics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: This thesis is not currently available for public use
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Arts > Film, Media & Cultural Studies
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2019 13:36
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2019 13:45
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/433

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