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Will the real smart city please stand up?


  • Robert G. Hollands


Debates about the future of urban development in many Western countries have been increasingly influenced by discussions of smart cities. Yet despite numerous examples of this 'urban labelling’ phenomenon, we know surprisingly little about so‐called smart cities, particularly in terms of what the label ideologically reveals as well as hides. Due to its lack of definitional precision, not to mention an underlying self‐congratulatory tendency, the main thrust of this article is to provide a preliminary critical polemic against some of the more rhetorical aspects of smart cities. The primary focus is on the labelling process adopted by some designated smart cities, with a view to problematizing a range of elements that supposedly characterize this new urban form, as well as question some of the underlying assumptions/contradictions hidden within the concept. To aid this critique, the article explores to what extent labelled smart cities can be understood as a high‐tech variation of the 'entrepreneurial city’, as well as speculates on some general principles which would make them more progressive and inclusive.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert G. Hollands, 2008. "Will the real smart city please stand up?," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 303-320, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:cityxx:v:12:y:2008:i:3:p:303-320
    DOI: 10.1080/13604810802479126

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