[Air-L] CFP: Complexity of power in the smart city

Seija Ridell seija.ridell at uta.fi
Tue Apr 4 08:09:59 PDT 2017

*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 8^th : deadline for submission of abstracts (300–500 words) to the 
guest editors

June 1st: notification of abstract acceptance

If selected:

July 15^th : deadline for submitting an extended abstract/article 
outline (about 1200 words) to the guest editors
August 31^st : guest editors’ comments on extended abstracts; manuscript 
instructions and a more detailed production timeline

*Abstract submission *

Include in the abstract a list of key references and a short bio.

Please submit your abstract by e-mail to the guest editors:

1) Seija Ridell, University of Tampere: seija.ridell at uta.fi

2) Marco Santangelo, Politecnico di Torino: marco.santangelo at polito.it

For any enquiry please contact the guest editors.

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