Towards a critique of cybernetic urbanism: The smart city and the society of control

Maroš Krivý at Planning Theory: “The smart city has become a hegemonic notion of urban governance, transforming and supplanting planning. The first part of this article reviews current critiques of this notion. Scholars present three main arguments against the smart city: that it is incompatible with an informal character of the city, that it subjects the city to corporate power and that it reproduces social and urban inequalities. It is argued that these critiques either misunderstand how power functions in the smart city or fail to address it as a specific modality of entrepreneurial urban governance. The second part advances an alternative critique, contending that the smart city should be understood as an urban embodiment of the society of control (Deleuze). The smart city is embedded in the intellectual framework of second order cybernetics and articulates urban subjectivity in terms of data flows. Planning as a political practice is superseded by an environmental-behavioural control, in which subjectivity is articulated supra-individually (permeating the city with sensing nodes) and infra-individually (making citizens into sensing nodes)….(More)”