Seeing like a city: how tech became urban

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The emergence of urban tech economies calls attention to the multidimensional spatiality of ecosystems made up of people and organizations that produce new digital technology. Since the economic crisis of 2008, city governments have aggressively pursued economic growth by nurturing these ecosystems. Elected officials create public-private-nonprofit partnerships to build an “innovation complex” of discursive, organizational, and geographical spaces; they aim not only to jump-start economic growth but to remake the city for a new modernity. But it is difficult to insert tech production space into the complicated urban matrix. Embedded industries and social communities want protection from expanding tech companies and the real estate developers who build for them. City council members, state legislators, and community organizations oppose the city government’s attempts to satisfy Big Tech companies. While the city’s density magnifies conflicts of interest over land-use and labor issues, the covid-19 pandemic raises serious questions about the city’s ability to both oppose Big Tech and keep creating tech jobs.




Zukin, S. (2020). Seeing like a city: how tech became urban. Theory and Society, 49(5–6), 941–964.

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