Uncovering the ‘Cracks’?
Bringing Feminist Urban Research Into Smart City Research
Keywords:Smart city, gender inequality, feminist urban theory, Sidewalk Lab
Several urban scholars have stressed the difficulties of locating and capturing the smart city, while at the same time smart city initiatives are becoming normalized and integrated in urban policy and practice. Besides the focus on technological innovations within information and communication technology, artificial intelligence, internet of things, new infrastructures and Big Data, smart cities are also about economic, sociocultural, architectural, ecological and political changes. As Engelbert et al. (2018) argue, citizens represent different interests and needs that are rarely stated in smart city discourse. According to Sangiuliano (2014), smart cities are generally not attentive to gender inequalities and, as Rose (2016) has pointed out, smart city conferences – both academic and professional- are dominated by men. Feminist urban scholars, scrutinizing patriarchal urban development, raise questions of how to develop an inclusive smart city and whether it is possible to claim the concept of smart cities for a more inclusive city. In this article, adding to earlier feminist urban theorists and intersectional approaches, we want to turn to the methodological challenges on how to investigate and ‘unpack’ power relations within smart city visions and materializations. We argue that there is a need for an increased methodological awareness within the smart city research in order to include social difference.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cardullo, Paolo, Di Feliciantonio, Cesare, and Rob Kitchin, eds. 2019. The Right to the Smart City. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.
Cecco, Leyland. 2019. “‘Surveillance capitalism’: critic urges Toronto to abandon smart city project.” The Guardian, June 6, 2019. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jun/06/toronto-smart-city-google-project-privacy-concerns
Chang, Emily. 2018. Brotopia. Braking up the boy’s club of Silicon Valley. New York: Penguin Random House.
Choo, Hae Yeon, and Myra Marx Ferre. 2010. “Practicing intersectionality in sociological research: A critical analysis of inclusions, interactions, and institutions in the study of inequalities.” Sociological theory, 28 (2): 129–149.
Christensen, Ann-Dorte, and Sune Qvotrup Jensen. 2012. “Doing intersectional analysis: Methodological implications for qualitative research.” NORA-Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 20 (2): 109–125.
CityNews. 2020. “Sidewalk Labs pulling out of Quayside Waterfront project.” May 7, 2020. Accessed August 18, 2020. https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/05/07/sidewalk-labs-pulling-out-of-quayside-waterfront-project/
Collins, Patricia Hill. 1989. “The social construction of black feminist thought.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 14 (4): 745–773.
Crenshaw, Kimberle. 1990. “Mapping the margins – Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color.” Stanford Law Review, 43 (6): 1241–1299.
Cugurullo, Federico. 2018. “Exposing smart cities and eco-cities: Frankenstein urbanism and the sustainability challenges of the experimental city.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 50 (1): 73–92.
CTV News. 2019. “Politicians, business experts call for end of Sidewalk Labs project.” February 18, 2019. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/politicians-business-experts-call-for-end-of-sidewalk-labs-project-1.4302206
Datta, Ayona. 2015. “New urban utopias of postcolonial India: ‘Entrepreneurial urbanization’ in Dholera smart city, Gujarat.” Dialogues in Human Geography, 5 (1): 3–22.
Datta, Ayona, and Nancy Odendaal. 2019. “Smart cities and the banality of power.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 37 (3): 387–392.
Daley, Sam. 2021. “Women in tech statistics show the industry has a long way to go.” Built In, May 5, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2021. https://builtin.com/women-tech/women-in-tech-workplace-statistics
De los Reyes, Paulina, Molina, Irene, and Diana Mulinari, eds. 2002. Maktens (o)lika förklädnader: kön, klass & etnicitet i det postkoloniala Sverige: en festskrift till Wuokko Knocke. Stockholm: Bokförlaget Atlas.
Donovan, Vincent. 2018. “Tech expert resigns from advisory panel on Sidewalk Toronto over data ownership concerns.” Toronto Star, October 4, 2018. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/10/04/tech-expert-resigns-from-sidewalk-toronto-advisory-panel-over-data-ownership-concerns.html
Engelbert, Jiska, van Zoonen, Liesbet, and Fadi Hirzalla. 2018. “Excluding citizens from the European Smart City: the discourse practices of pursuing and granting smartness.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 142: 347–353.
Fainstein, Susan, and Linda J. Servon, eds. 2005. Gender and Planning. A Reader. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Florida, Richard. 2019. “Sidewalk Labs is the future of urban tech.” Toronto Life, September 4, 2019. Accessed August 24, 2020. https://torontolife.com/city/sidewalk-labs-is-the-future-of-urban-tech/
Friberg, Tora. 1990. ”Kvinnors vardag. Om kvinnors arbete och liv. Anpassningsstrategier i tid och rum.” PhD diss. Lund: Lund University Press.
Gannon, Susanne, and Bronwym Davies. 2012. “Postmodern, Post-Structuralist, and Critical Theories.” In The Handbook of Feminist Research: Theory and Praxis, 2nd edition, edited by Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber, 71-106. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Gilbert, Melissa. 2010. “Theorizing digital and urban inequalities: Critical geographies of ‘race’, gender and technological capital.” Information, communication & society, 13 (7): 1000-1018.
Gines, Kathryn T. 2011. “Black feminism and intersectional analyses: A defense of intersectionality.” Philosophy Today, 55: 275-284.
Greenfield, Adam. 2013. Against the smart city. (The city is here for you to use). New York: Do Projects.
Gressgård, Randi. 2008. “Mind the gap: Intersectionality, complexity and ‘the event’.” Theory and Science, 10 (1): 1-16.
Hammarén, Nils, and Thomas Johansson. 2014. “Homosociality: In between power and intimacy.” SAGE Open. January-March 2014: 1-11.
Harding, Sandra, and Kathryn Norberg. 2005. “New feminist approaches to social science methodologies: An introduction.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30 (4): 2009-2015.
Hayden, Dolores. 1980. “What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like? Speculations on Housing, Urban Design, and Human Work.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 5 (3), 170–187.
Hollands, Robert G. 2015. “Critical interventions into the corporate smart city.” Cambridge journal of regions, economy and society, 8 (1): 61-77.
Jacobs, Jane. 1969. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House.
Josephson, Alexander. 2019. “Toronto needs exciting new architecture.” Toronto Life, September 4, 2019. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://torontolife.com/city/toronto-needs-exciting-new-architecture/
Karvonen, Andrew, Cugurullo, Federico, and Federico Caprotti, eds. 2019. Inside smart cities: Place, Politics and Urban Innovation. London and New York: Routledge.
Kitchin, Rob. 2015. “Making sense of smart cities: addressing present shortcomings.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 8 (1): 131–136.
Listerborn, Carina. 2002. ”Trygg stad. Diskurser om kvinnors rädsla i forskning, policyutveckling och lokal praktik.” PhD diss. Gothenburg: Chalmers University of Technology.
Listerborn, Carina. 2016. “Feminist struggle over urban safety and the politics of space.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 23 (3): 251-264.
Listerborn, Carina. 2020. “Gender and Urban Neoliberalization.” In Routledge International Handbook of Gender and Feminist Geographies, edited by Datta, Anindita, Hopkins, Peter, Johnston, Lynda, Olson, Elizabeth, and Joseli Maria Silva, 184–193. London and New York: Routledge.
Luque-Ayala, Andrés, and Simon Marvin. 2015. “Developing a critical understanding of smart urbanism.” Urban Studies, 52 (12): 2105–2116.
McFarlane, Colin. 2010. “The Comparative City: Knowledge, Learning, Urbanism.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34 (4): 725–742.
Markusen, Ann R. 1980. “City spatial structure, women's household work, and national urban policy.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 5 (3): 23-44.
Marvin, Simon, Luque-Ayala, Andrés, and Colin McFarlane, eds. 2016. Smart urbanism: Utopian vision or false dawn? London and New York: Routledge.
Mechlenborg, Mette, and Kirsten Gram-Hanssen, 2020. ”Gendered homes in theories of practice: A framework for research in residential energy consumption.” Energy Research and Social Science, 67 (March): 101538 (online version).
Misa, Thomas J., ed. 2010. Gender Codes. Why Women are Leaving Computing. Wiley – IEEE Computer Society Press.
O’Kane, Josh. 2018. “Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto deal sparks data, innovation concerns.” The Globe and Mail, August 2, 2018. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/technology/article-new-development-agreement-between-sidewalk-labs-and-waterfront-toronto/
Pain, Rachel. 2001. “Gender, race, age and fear in the city.” Urban Studies, 38 (5-6): 899–913.
Parker, Brenda. 2011. “Material Matters: Gender and the City.” Geography Compass, 5 (6): 433–447.
Parker, Brenda. 2016. “Feminist Forays in the City: Imbalance and Intervention in Urban Research Methods.” Antipode, 48 (5): 1337–1358.
Parker, Brenda. 2107. Masculinities and Markets. Race and gendered urban politics in Milwaukee. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
Parks, Melissa Michelle. 2020. “Critical ecocultural intersectionality.” In Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity, edited by Tema Milstein, and José Castro-Sotomayo: 103-114. London: Routledge.
Perez, Caroline Criado. 2019. Invisible Women. Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. London: Penguin Random House.
Prichard, Robert. 2019. “We can harness the private sector for the public good.” Toronto Life, September 4, 2019. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://torontolife.com/city/we-can-harness-the-private-sector-for-the-public-good/
Robinson, Jennifer. 2014. “Introduction to a Virtual Issue on Comparative Urbanism.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, doi: 10.1111/1468-2427.12171.
Robinson, Jennifer. 2016. “Comparative Urbanism: New Geographies and Cultures of Theorizing the Urban.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40 (1): 187-199.
Rose, Gillian. 2016. “So what would a smart city designed for women be like? (And why that’s not the only question to ask).” Wordpress (blog). Visual/Method/Culture, April 22, 2016. Accessed February 22, 2020. https://visualmethodculture.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/so-what-would-a-smart-city-designed-for-women-be-like-and-why-thats-not-the-only-question-to-ask/
Rose, Gillian, Raghuram, Parvati, Watson, Sophie, and Edward Wigley. 2021. “Platform urbanism, smartphone applications and valuing data in a smart city.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 46 (1): 59-72.
Sangiuliano, Maria. 2014. “Smart Cities and Gender: main arguments and dimensions for a promising research and policy development area.” Working paper, WRGS. Accessed August 24, 2020. Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/WRGS/GenderDigital/MariaSangiuliano.pdf
Shelton, Taylor, Zook, Matthew, and Alan Wiig. 2015. “The ‘actually existing smart city’.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 8 (1): 13–25.
Shelton, Taylor, and Thomas Lodato. 2019. “Actually existing smart citizens: Expertise and (non) participation in the making of the smart city.” City, 23 (1): 35-52.
Simonite, Tom. 2019. “The best algorithms struggle to recognize black faces equally.” Wired, July, 22, 2019. Accessed August 24, 2020. https://www.wired.com/story/best-algorithms-struggle-recognize-black-faces-equally/
Slate. n.d. “Why Women Are Missing out on the Tech Boom.” Accessed December 10, 2020. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/ibm/2015/04/why_women_are_missing_out_on_the_tech_boom.html?via=gdpr-consent
Staunæs, Dorthe. 2003. “Where have all the subjects gone? Bringing together the concepts of intersectionality and subjectification.” NORA: Nordic journal of women's studies, 11(2), 101–110.
Staunæs, Dorthe, and Dorte Marie Søndergaard. 2006. “Intersektionalitet–udsat for teoretisk justering.” Kvinder, Køn & Forskning, 2-3: 43-56.
Squires, Judith. 2007. The New Politics of Gender Equality. New York: Palgrave/Macmillan.
Toronto Life. 2019. “The Sidewalk War.” September 4, 2019. Accessed August 24, 2020. https://torontolife.com/city/18-big-thinkers-take-a-critical-look-at-the-sidewalk-labs-plan/
Townsend, Anthony M. 2013. Smart Cities. Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company.
Weisman, Lesley Kanes. 1994. Discrimination by Design: A Feminist Critique of the Man-made Environment. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Wylie, Bianca. 2019. “Corporations should not be controlling our city-building.” Toronto Life, September 4, 2019. August 24, 2020. https://torontolife.com/city/corporations-should-not-be-controlling-our-city-building/
Wylie, Bianca. 2019. “Sidewalk Toronto: A Hubristic, Insulting, Incoherent Civic Tragedy – Part 1.” Medium (blog), Bianca Wylie. February 22, 2019. Accessed July 22, 2019. https://biancawylie.medium.com/sidewalk-toronto-a-hubristic-insulting-incoherent-civic-tragedy-part-i-ae1e71ed6940
Wylie, Bianca. 2018. “Sidewalk Toronto Has Yet To Give Us A Reason To Trust Its Smart City Experiment.” Huff Post, September 5, 2018. Accessed July 22, 2019. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/bianca-wylie/sidewalk-labs-toronto-plans-transparency_a_23428379/
Yuval-Davis, Nira. 2006. “Intersectionality and feminist politics.” European journal of women’s studies, 13 (3): 193–209.
Yuval-Davis, Nira. 2011. The politics of belonging. Intersectional contestations. London: Sage.
How to Cite
Authors agree to publish their articles in ACME under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-