Smart subjects for a Smart Nation? Governing (smart)mentalities in Singapore

TitleSmart subjects for a Smart Nation? Governing (smart)mentalities in Singapore
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsHo E
JournalUrban Studies
Date Published10/2017

As visions of smart urbanism gain traction around the world, it is crucial that we question the benefits that an increasingly technologised urbanity promise. It is not about the technology, but bettering peoples’ lives, insist smart city advocates. In this paper, I question the progressive potential of the smart city drawing on the case of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. Using the case studies of the smart home and ‘learning to code’ movement, I highlight the limits of such ‘smart’ interventions as they are stunted by the neoliberal-developmental logics of the state, thereby facilitating authoritarian consolidation in Singapore. As such, this paper distinguishes itself from previous works on the neoliberal smart city by situated smart urbanism within the socio-political dynamics of neoliberalism-as-developmental strategy. For smart urbanism to better peoples’ everyday lives, technological ‘solutionism’ needs to be replaced with more human-centric framings and understandings of urban challenges.