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A Critical Exploration of the Politics of Digital Technologies in Urban Spaces SSS14

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: SSS14

Digital technologies have become part of the built environment of our cities, shaping how people work, consume, produce, trade, enjoy leisure and, of course, are governed as well as mobilise (Kitchin, Lauriault and McArdle 2018). Digital technologies and cities appear deeply interconnected, in ways that are dynamic and changing, and potentially made even more relevant by the current Covid 19 pandemic. And yet, these connections are often invisible and unknown to the inhabitants of the city. They are designed, established, and used largely by companies and governments according to logics of profit and control. At the same time, city governments and urban movements play an increasingly important role in resisting but also repurposing the deployment and use of digital technologies in cities, in light of more democratic and participatory principles (Mosco 2019). Eventually, this picture suggests that the process that connects digital technologies and cities, and the flow of ‘big’ and ‘urban’ data it entails, is inherently political, and that the politics of digital technologies has a crucial urban component (Marvin, Luque-Ayala and McFarlane 2016). This project aims to offer a critical exploration of this politics: to deconstruct the practices through which digital technologies are designed, sold, acquired, used, and eventually normalised in cities; to examine how these practices intersect with social divisions and inequalities, with significant implications for specific neighbourhoods and urban communities; to expose the political and often contested and changing ways in which digital technologies impact the city and the ‘urban’ more generally, and the other way around.

We are interested in receiving applications for doctoral projects that explore different aspects of the politics of digital technologies in urban spaces, including: the production, deployment, and consumption of digital technologies in cities; the narratives and discourses that sustain or resist these practices; the competing/ambivalent rationales and agendas that connect cities and digital technologies; and specific initiatives in cities which make use of digital technologies. We are interested in projects with an interdisciplinary edge, intersecting the fields of political and urban sociology, politics, human geography, and media and communication studies. Projects with an empirical, comparative, and/or international perspective are especially welcome, as well as those who offer an innovative methodology for the analysis of digital tools and devices that gather data from and generate knowledge on the city and its inhabitants. A non-exhaustive list of concepts and issues we are interested in includes: datafication, surveillance capitalism, smart and digital cities, datafication and digital rights, new municipalism, work, housing, health and the pandemic, environment, mobility, sustainability, urban politics and policy, local government, and administration.

School strategic research priority

The project is based in the Identity, Territory and Social Justice Research group of the School of Social Sciences. It aligns with the Centre for Behavioural Research Methods and the theme of Sustainable Futures.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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