Smart City-Regions and Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) are now driving significant policy development in city regions in Europe. However, the ‘smartness’ in these strategies is dominated by a technological hegemonic understanding of the city region. The discourse is centred on knowledge flows and data aggregation which allows the city-region to modelled and managed.
At the same time, territorial innovation models such as the triple/quadruple/penta-helix models also seek to understand the city-region as a system of knowledge flows between stakeholders. In this case, stakeholders’ interdependencies and their social and culturally rooted practices are just as important as the data and technical knowledge itself. Indeed, the role of institutions seems to be strategically substantial in order to foster ecosystems of experimentation engaging not only the public sector, private sector and academia but also civic society, social entrepreneurs and activists.
There is a growing critique of the more technocratic smart city strategies. The early pioneers in the field have not always delivered on their promise. There is also a growing challenge to the discourse that sees cities as machines, corporations or biological systems that can be broken down into their component parts and understood.
Hence, there is a gap therefore between the objective city to be found in many of the technocratic data driven solutions to the problems faced by city regions and the subjective city to be found in the everyday experience of the citizens of city-regions.
This special session is therefore seeking papers from academics and practitioners working at the frontier between the subjective and objective city-regional configurations in Europe. We would like to stimulate critical governance debate that challenges some of the assumptions and norms embedded in smart city-region strategies and suggest ways in which the divide between subjective and objective city-region can be bridged by different models capturing stakeholders interactions such as those so-called stakeholder-helixes strategies.