STS and the City: Politics and practices of hope

  • Coutard O
  • Guy S
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Abstract

Many recent studies on network technologies and cities share an alarmist view of the impact of technological or regulatory change in utility sectors on the social and spatial fabric of cities, pointing to growing discrimination and inequalities, alienation, enhanced social exclusion and urban “splintering” on a universal scale. A science and technology study (STS) perspective on these matters is helpful in moving beyond this “universal alarmism” by emphasizing the ambivalence inherent to all technologies, the significant potential of contes- tation of, and resistance, to technology-supported forms of discrimination, and the deeply contingent nature of the process of appropriation of new technologies and, as a consequence, of the social “effects” of technologies. Adopting this perspective would mean actively searching for and exploring these context-dependent and often conflictive appropriation processes. For it is in these spaces that we might begin to identify urban technological politics that break free from an intellectually and politically disabling technological pessimism.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Contingency
  • Infrastructure networks
  • Politics of hope
  • Technology studies
  • Urban studies

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Authors

  • Olivier Coutard

  • Simon Guy

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