Accepted Paper:

Smarter together? Policy assemblages and economisation in the European Union  


Claudia Mendes Bernhard (Technical University of Munich)

Paper short abstract:

Conceptualizing the EU H2020 Smart Cities and Communities programm as a policy assemblage, this paper seeks to explore the complex entanglement of valuation, policy and economisation devices at stake.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I propose to examine the EU Horizon 2020 program on Smart Cities and Communities (SCC) as a policy assemblage (Ureta 2013). Policies in this conceptualisation are understood as "an ample array of heterogeneous elements, from technical standards to everyday practices" and opposed to the idea of policies as "pure application of rational guidelines" resulting in "clearly bounded single processes/objects." (304)

The SCC program mobilizes municipalities as key players in large public-private consortia, around a range of economic and non-ecnonmic goals: projects are meant to simultaneously foster "market ready technological solutions" and "viable business models" while making cities more climate friendly and inclusive. Drawing on an ethnographic case study of Smarter Together, a SCC funded project run by the municipalities of Munich, Vienna and Lyon, I will trace how multiple and often conflicting valuation practices are carried out and made to count in this policy assemblage.

While a general ambiguity - often described as value (economic) vs. values (moral) - is inherent to all processes of valuation (Cochoy 2008, Helgesson and Muniesa 2013), in the case at hand this tension seems to be source of continual overflows (Callon 1998) and reframings: What kind of devices are at stake, when public sector actors engage in economisation as well as socially inclusive and sustainable development alike? How do these devices (re)frame and are themselves (re)purposed or (dis)qualified by different actors? And how does the SCC program relate to other European policy agendas i. e. of harmonisation (Barry 2001)?

Panel G04
Beyond market attachment: differentiating and explicating the role of 'policy devices' in organising economic matters