Urban labs as resilience practices
(Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Roland Bal (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Hester van de Bovenkamp (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Paper short abstract:
We focus on the governance of resilience through urban labs. We approach the laboratization of urban life as a form of experimental governance. By scrutinizing the meaning of the theoretical notion of urban labs for policy and practices we provide insight into the strategies of resilience.
Paper long abstract:
Today local policymakers (semi-)public service providers and citizens are increasingly engaging in urban labs to find local solutions for global problems. Urban labs hold the promise of enhancing resilience as they focus on experimentation in which knowledge production, learning and system change are key.
In our paper we focus on the governance of resilience through urban labs, approaching them as fundamental aspects of the agenda of building resilient societies that may offer a more progressive politics (Rose & Lentzos, 2016). We approach the laboratization of urban life as a form of experimental governance (Sabel & Zeitlin, 2012) in response to strategic uncertainty. Together experimental governance and resilience strategies, materialize in the urban lab as a new socio-material infrastructure in which an alternative, resilient future is imagined.
To analyse this new form of governance, in-depth studies are needed to find the problematizations for which resilience seems to be the answer; the techniques that are developed to improve resilience; the forms of expertise that are shaped to define and manage resilience; the notions of personhood and techniques of the resilient self that are being deployed (Rose & Lentzos, 2016). This paper contributes to building this highly needed agenda by providing insight into the meaning of the theoretical notion of urban labs for policy and practices. For this, we conduct a critical discourse analysis of policy documents as well as in-depth interviews with key figures involved in urban labs within the city of Rotterdam (a city in well on its way to laboratization).
Democracies of controlled experimentation? The emerging landscape of social laboratories