10 January 2020

Bringing back the national to the study of globally circulating policy ideas: ‘Actually existing smart urbanism’ in Hungary and the Netherlands

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Bringing back the national to the study of globally circulating policy ideas: ‘Actually existing smart urbanism’ in Hungary and the Netherlands, by Damion Bunders MsC (Economic and Social History) and Dr Krisztina Varró (Human Geography and Planning), was recently published by Sage Journals. 

Recently proliferating ‘smart city’ building efforts have lent themselves well to interpretations through the lens of the policy mobilities literature. Applying this perspective, studies have insightfully shown how policymaking centred around smart cities is at once a messy, networked process stretching across scales, while also manifesting itself in concrete practices shaped by territorial–regulatory contexts. Informed by empirical research on smart city policies in Hungary and the Netherlands, this study argues that the policy mobilities approach tends to overemphasize the global and the local.

Smart urbanisms

Notwithstanding the transnational circulation of smart city ideas, the national scale continues being reproduced by these ideas as a relevant scale of urban regulation, discursive framing and strategy-making under globalization. To acknowledge this, and to move towards a more decidedly multiscalar perspective on actually existing smart urbanisms, it is suggested that we incorporate the national scale, understood as a relational set of practices and discourses, more explicitly into our analysis. Insights from the Hungarian and Dutch case studies are used to illustrate the manifold ways in which the local embedding of the globally mobile smart city concept is shaped by the national scale, as well as how the national itself is being renegotiated in this process.