Excluding citizens from the European smart city: The discourse practices of pursuing and granting smartness
This article conceptualises the European smart city as an assemblage of peripheral smart city network practices and central smart city project practices. Both practices are primarily geared towards the pursuit of ‘smartness’ a prestigious urban adjective that, in the European context, often means receiving an award or large grant from Europe. This article focuses on smart city projects that received European funding, and explores why, how and with what effect for citizen participation these projects are shaped by specific visions for European cities in general, and for European smart cities in particular. It does so by situating these ideas within the intersecting political-economic ambitions of those able to grant ‘smart’ (European Research and Innovation Schemes) and those needing to pursue it (post-crisis municipalities). It then illustrates how this political economy results in a discursive production logic that explains why so many smart city projects, that were or want to be successful in European grant applications, tend to exclude the perspective and interests of citizens. The article consequently proposes that politicians, city makers and scientists, who so laudably (cl)aim to position and treat citizens as key stakeholders in European smart cities, reflect more explicitly on their own roles in preserving and challenging this production logic.