Can we negotiate? Trust and the rule of law in the smart city paradigm

Esther Keymolen*, Astrid Voorwinden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
105 Downloads (Pure)


This article focuses on the smart city as a political place. It analyses how both the technologies and the ideas smart cities are built on, oust trust and the rule of law as two important conditions for the city as a thriving political community. In particular, three challenges to the city as a political place are identified: de-subjectivation, invisibility, and a neo-liberal value shift. In order to address these challenges, we introduce the term ‘negotiation’ as a new guiding principle to the use of smart technologies in cities. Through negotiation, we underline some necessary steps to re-subjectify citizens and to put the acceptance of vulnerability and transparency at the centre of our thinking and evaluation of the smart city. This article concludes that the current focus on participation and citizen-centric smart city projects is not sufficient to build and contribute to a genuine political community and that a re-evaluation of active citizenship in the smart city context is therefore needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-253
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Review of Law, Computers & Technology
Issue number3
Early online date5-Mar-2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • smart city
  • trust
  • rule of law

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