Conference Agenda

RN37_02a: Consequences of digitalization on urban life and urban spaces
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Patricia Campelo, UNIVERSITY OF THE BASQUE COUNTRY
Location: BS.3.19
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


Digital Platform and Cities: The cases of Bologna city of food and Lisbon TVDE service.

Giorgio Pirina

University of Bologna, Italy

This paper deals with the relation between cities and digital platforms, in the frameworks of Global Value Chains(GVCs) and platform capitalism. After a brief introduction of literature concerning these approaches, the analysis will focus on the contexts of research: Bologna and Lisbon. In both these cities, the shifting toward a touristic economy has been a strategy to boost the urban economy and to improve their competitive position in the global hierarchy and in the spatial division of consumption and labour. The emergence of sharing/gig economy is contributing to shape the social and urban space and, furthermore, to extract value from it. However, globally exist several practices included in what is known as platform cooperativism, whose purpose is reframe concepts like innovation and efficiency and facilitate the active participation of people in the decisional process. The questions are: in which manner digital platforms, such as for example those of food delivery, Airbnb and Uber contribute to transform the urban structure and labour process of i) Bologna, within the framework of the so-called city of food and ii) Lisbon, given the recent “Lei da Uber” (Uber Law)? The former is an interesting case study because of the so-called “Carta dei diritti dei lavoratori digitali in ambito urbano”, which represents a bottom-up (from social movement and Municipal scale) attempt to regulate the food delivery sector. The latter represents a top-down regulation (from the national scale) of TVDE service, that is “Transporte individual e remunerado de passageiros em veículos descaracterizados”(individual and remunerated transport of passengers in uncharacterized vehicles). For both cases some empirical evidence will be used, assisted by current literature on touristification and platform capitalism. The non-standard methodology will be useful to seize the processual dimension of cases study and emphasize ground’s features.

Keywords: digital platform, gig economy, city of food, platform cooperativism, Uber

Un/safe City. The Gendered Representation Of Safety Technologies

Alina Dambrosio Clementelli

indipendent researcher, Italy

My proposal is to analyse through an intersectional perspective what is the representation that emerged by the use of urban security technologies, stressing the relationship between urban space dynamics and subjects’ positions within it.

The analysis will focus on safety apps for women that are characterized by mapping of the city, from which emerged some unsafe neighbourhoods. Previous researcher showed gender bias and power hierarchies in urban space (Rose, 1983; Massey, 1994; Borghi & Rondinone, 2004), and highlighted the link between fear, gender and security (Valentine, 1989; Pitch2& Ventimiglia, 2001; Koskela, 2002).

According to Foucaldian analysis of power (1971, 1975), the urban space may become a dispositive of control leading to “normalization”, and how the body may become a “bio-politic boundary” (Minca & Bialasewic, 2004) that can be included or excluded [in the space] according to the norms. Indeed security dispositive, like the militarization of streets, the video-surveillance, etc., are security dispositive that do not contest power hierarchies, rather raise material and symbolical boundaries to normalize habits (Petrillo, 2015). In this sense, safety apps for women could be considered an individualized security dispositive? How these apps and their application is changing the urban social relationship and environment? These are the issues that emerge in order to outline the gendered representation of security.

Do Locative Media Change Urban Public Space?

Eric Lettkemann, Ingo Schulz-Schaeffer

TU Berlin, Germany

In our talk, we present an analytical concept for distinguishing manifestations of public places and discuss how locative media might reinforce or change the fabric of public space. Locative media is an umbrella term for mobile apps, providing users with digital information about their social and material surroundings. Some apps, like Ingress, are mobile games adding virtual objects to perceptible space in order to turn urban places into playgrounds. Others, such as Foursquare, are recommendation services enabling users to annotate urban places with digital photos, ratings or comments. By means of locative media, users share and create information about places and presumably contribute to the (re-)production of spatial structures. We propose to describe the public space of modern cities along two structural dimensions. On the one hand, we distinguish urban public places according to their degree of accessibility. On the other hand, we distinguish urban places based on how basic or elaborate and how homogeneous or diverse the symbolic meanings attached to them are. We argue that these meanings and the associated social practices influence the de facto accessibility of public places. Consequently, while some areas of a city are actually open to all residents, other places are restricted de facto to members of specific social worlds. Based on preliminary empirical observations, we examine how locative media either reflect and reinforce the given social fabric of public space or evoke changes in the accessibility and meaning of public places. In doing so, we want to compare the respective effects of locative games and recommendation services.

Bright Spots in the Sold City? Libraries in the Age of Digitalization.

Alina Wandelt

Universität Leipzig, Germany

The commodification of urban life and privatization of public spaces has increased sharply in recent years. Spaces that are accessible to all and free of charge have become scarce, especially in major cities, where rents are steadily increasing and gentrification has become a major concern. Berlin is a particularly succinct example: Formerly endowed with an abundancy of open spaces, the city’s privatisation policies in the 90s have left a majority of places in the hands of large investment firms, while seemingly public spaces are run by a state management imposing thresholds by means of admissions prices (e.g. museums) or specific codes of conducts (e.g. train stations).

Against the backdrop of such developments, libraries present themselves as bright spots: Inheriting the ideal of universal access to knowledge at their core, they promise to cater for the general public's needs. And while their traditional function as supertemporal archives for knowledge may have ceased in the course of digitization, libraries appear to gain momentum as physical spaces that allow people to meet and assemble across boundaries.

Drawing upon ethnographic research in libraries in Berlin, this paper asks in how far libraries can live up to this ideal of common spaces. The methodology employed follows the approach of Latour-student Yaneva (2011) who opts for a perspective on architecture that overcomes the artificial bifurcation of ‘architecture’ and ‘society’. Instead of explaining a supposedly static and fixed building with ‘society’ or ‘culture’, controversies related to libraries are traced in order to grasp their complexity as assemblages in the city.