Lampposts that serve as CCTV devices, infra-red sensors measuring the current occupancy level of public spaces, hybrid offices; digitization and implementation of smart city technology are on the rise, with covid-19 giving an impulse to both. The dominant discourse about these developments is usually tech-driven, aimed at efficiency and improving the lives of the urban citizen. However, critical accounts of the smart city originating in feminist standpoint theory and feminist Science and Technology Studies highlight the potential harms and dangers when it comes to urban life, whether that be the construction of a new urban morality or a surveillance-city. To bring these meta discourses closer to practice, this thesis is aimed at reconstructing the sociotechnical imaginaries about smart city and smart citizens held by those involved in producing knowledge thereof on a daily basis. By means of an ethnography amongst data practitioners in Rotterdam Knowledge Labs, this thesis shows that with a topic as pressing as smart cities, it is crucial not to forget about the personal and sociocultural elements in an otherwise technocratic discussion. (Re)constructing sociotechnical imaginaries is a helpful tool to understand the political and material aspects of a public issue.

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Maja Hertoghs, Samira van Bohemen
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

van Eck, L. (2021, June 18). At the Heart of Smart; On sociotechnical imaginaries about smart cities and the ways in which these shape data practices and knowledge production in Rotterdam Knowledge Labs. Sociology. Retrieved from