Smart city development as spatial manifestations of 21st century capitalism

Martin De Jong*, Simon Joss, Araz Taeihagh

*Corresponding author for this work

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Globally, smart cities attract billions of dollars in investment annually, with related market opportunities forecast to grow year-on-year. The enormous resources poured into their development consist of financial capital, but also natural, human and social resources converted into infrastructure and real estate. The latter act as physical capital storage and sites for the creation of digital products and services expected to generate the highest value added. Smart cities serve as temporary spatial fixes until new and better investments opportunities emerge. Drawing from a comprehensive range of publications on capitalism, this article analyzes smart city developments as typifier of 21st century capital accumulation where the financialization of various capitals is the overarching driver and ecological overshoot and socio-economic undershoot are the main negative consequences. It closely examines six spatial manifestations of the smart city – science parks and smart campuses; innovation districts; smart neighborhoods; city-wide and city-regional smart initiatives; urban platforms; and alternative smart city spaces – as receptacles for the conversion of various capitals. It also considers the influence of different national regimes and institutional contexts on smart city developments. This is used, in the final part, to open a discussion about opportunities to temper the excesses of 21st century capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123299
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

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