The social innovation-(re)politicisation nexus: Unlocking the political in actually existing smart city campaigns? The case of SmartCity Cologne, Germany

Leitheiser, S. & Follmann, A., 3-Oct-2019, In : Urban Studies. 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

As a prominent and performative discourse, The Smart City has the potential to shape urban futures. Yet, its mostly top-down implementation and dominantly technocratic definition of problems raises critiques of The Smart City as the latest version of a series of post-political and neoliberal visions of urban governance. However, as smart cities are implemented into 'actually existing' strategies locally, they are always negotiated and translated into place-specific contexts. Beyond critiquing the powerful discourse of The Smart City, the social innovation-(re)politicisation nexus (SIRN) spells out a framework for contesting and co-producing radically transformative smart city visions and politics as they take shape on the ground. Linking the empirical case study of the 'top-down' implementation of SmartCity Cologne, Germany, to current 'bottom-up' discourses on reclaiming the urban commons, we show how 'true' and 'real' social innovation must go hand-in-hand with a re-politicisation of hegemonic logics and discursive framings. In doing so, this paper makes theoretical and empirical contributions to public and academic discourse on which governance practices, methods and policies could contribute to radical transformations towards a 'truly' smart and sustainable urban future.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalUrban Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3-Oct-2019


  • post-politics, re-politicisation, smart city, social innovation, sustainability, CITIES, SUSTAINABILITY, INNOVATION, GOVERNANCE, DEMOCRACY, ENERGY, SENSE

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