The 'Actually Existing Smart City'

Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 8(1): 13-25

13 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2014 Last revised: 2 Mar 2015

See all articles by Taylor Shelton

Taylor Shelton

Mississippi State University

Matthew Zook

University of Kentucky

Alan Wiig

Temple University

Date Written: 2015


This paper grounds the critique of the ‘smart city’ in its historical and geographical context. Adapting Brenner and Theodore’s notion of ‘actually existing neoliberalism’, we suggest a greater attention be paid to the ‘actually existing smart city’, rather than the exceptional or paradigmatic smart cities of Songdo, Masdar and Living PlanIT Valley. Through a closer analysis of cases in Louisville and Philadelphia, we demonstrate the utility of understanding the material effects of these policies in actual cities around the world, with a particular focus on how and from where these policies have arisen, and how they have unevenly impacted the places that have adopted them.

Keywords: data, economic development, governance, smart cities, urban studies

JEL Classification: R28, O21, 025, 038

Suggested Citation

Shelton, Taylor and Zook, Matthew and Wiig, Alan, The 'Actually Existing Smart City' (2015). Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 8(1): 13-25, Available at SSRN:

Taylor Shelton (Contact Author)

Mississippi State University

Mississippi State, MS 39762
United States

Matthew Zook

University of Kentucky ( email )

Lexington, KY 40506
United States

Alan Wiig

Temple University ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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