Contextualizing the Digital City
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In this chapter, I situate my investigation of the digital city in a variety of larger contexts, beginning with an explanation of how digital technologies are both mediating and part of the larger urban ecology. I also work to identify the intersections at which each city arises as a digital, smart, or cyber-city and elaborate on what theories are pertinent to the larger conversation. While I discuss each city in its specificity throughout this book, some common themes and discursive practices emerged, although often in distinct ways, and usefully addressed through broader theoretical frameworks, such as digital utopianism, neoliberalism, security and surveillance, and digital citizenship. I explore, for instance, how a certain urban ethos and technological utopianism plays a role in the production of certain discourses and functions to support dominant ideologies. I also explain how the digital city becomes inextricably intertwined with the logic of neoliberalism and discuss how the phenomenon of e-governance is increasingly mediated. Thinking also about how these cities either implicitly or explicitly draw upon concerns for security and safety and how the use of digital technologies, more broadly, both work to assuage those concerns and further heighten them. I also raise questions about how the use of certain surveillance technologies articulates with democratic practice. And I discuss how data collection and aggregation play an increasingly crucial role in urban policy decisions—but not always to the benefit of urban residents.