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Accepted Paper:

Reconfiguration of solution infrastructures through smart city transformations  
Benedict Lang (European New School of Digital Studies, Europa Universität Viadrina)

Short abstract:

By using the concept of öffentliche Daseinsvorsorge, this paper will surface reconfigurations of the normative self-understanding of municipalities as representatives of statehood resulting from the discourse on smart cities as digital public infrastructures in Germany.

Long abstract:

Large scale funding schemes like the German “Modellprojekte Smart City” alongside significant endeavours of various actors – include public and private sector, startups and civil society – on different levels are dedicated to the development of smart cities in order to create liveable cities. Sensors, algorithms and data are discursively positioned as central elements of digital public infrastructures connected to promises of a better future and to increasing the public good.

In Germany, öffentliche Daseinsvorsorge has long been an integral concept for the self-understanding of municipalities: Governmental power is legitimized through the provision of basic human needs for the citizens who cannot self-sustain their lives anymore as a result of urbanisation and the industrial revolution (Forsthoff 1938).

The discourse on smart cities and the development of smart city projects and strategies, however, are contributing to a reconfiguration of what I call solution infrastructures within municipalities. These solution infrastructures describe the material and immaterial procedures, activities, tools and attitudes that are used for tackling (wicked) problems that the municipalities are facing. Mobilizing the concept of öffentliche Daseinsvorsorge as a lense for critical analysis, this talk will surface the changes of the normative self-understanding of the municipalities as representations of statehood that result from the push of smart city agendas.

The paper will be based on fieldwork (observations, interviews, document analysis) examining the activities of the “Modellprojekte Smart City” funding scheme of the German federal government. It contains preliminary results of my PhD research project

Traditional Open Panel P032
Digital Public Goods and the future of the state: new constellations of (digital) statehood between entrepreneurship and state-led innovation
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -