Smart Share & Care
Duration: 03/2020 - 02/2021
Partners: Junior Fellow: Marcella Rowek; Incoming Senior Fellow: Prof. Dr. Sybille Bauriedl, Interdisziplinäres Institut für Umwelt-, Sozial- und Human-wissenschaften, Abteilung Geographie, Europa-Universität Flensburg; Incoming Junior Fellows: Yannick Ecker, Henk Wiechers
Contact: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anke Strüver
The term "Smart City" describes less the status of a city than the promise to improve the quality of life in cities by means of digital technologies. Digital communication, digital infrastructure and digital connectivity are increasingly penetrating the public and private spaces of work and everyday life. Thus, increasing digitalisation offers potential for new forms of urban coexistence on the one hand, while at the same time demonstrating a trend towards universalisation and standardisation by influential digital enterprises (see Bauriedl/Strüver 2018: Smart Cities. Critical perspectives on digitisation in cities. Transcript).
In the context of smart city strategies and the supply-driven expansion of the platform economies, the areas of care work and mobility in particular are subject to great dynamics in large cities. Care platforms are increasingly offering a wide range of services (care, food and grocery delivery, apartment cleaning or gardening). Mobility platforms offer more and more means of transport (city cars, vans, bicycles, cargo bikes, e-scooters) and usage options (stationary or unbound, self-propelled, shared, or autonomous). Where and how these infrastructures and services are developed is an expression of social power relations.
The rapid expansion of online platforms shows a form of hierarchization: a commodification of care and mobility services combined with the enforcement of precarious working conditions along gender and whiteness and an exclusive offer in socially privileged districts. Caring and sharing services reproduce a gendered division of labour and the special demand for care and mobility services in socially marginalised districts is hardly met. The digitization promises for smart cities do not apply to the city as a whole, but rather to islands of smart privilege, which already have excellent supply infrastructures. In the context of the research project, these observations will be examined in more detail for selected European cities with the following questions:
Do the promises of smart city discourses (effectiveness, availability, and quality of life through digital technologies) address a gendered and racialised division of labour? Do platform-mediated care and mobility services lead to social and spatial privileges and intersectional hierarchies?