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Toronto’s Not-So-“Smart” City: Dismantling the Tech Utopia & Building Stronger Communities

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posted on 2021-05-23, 10:53 authored by Sahar Raza
This thesis critically analyzes the dominant discourse, actors, and technologies associated with the Sidewalk Toronto smart city project to uncover and resist the potential dangers of the unregulated smart city. Drawing from gray and scholarly literature alongside four semistructured interviews and three action research methods, this research shows that smart cities and technologies are the latest iteration of corporate power, exploitation, and control. Imbued with neoliberal, colonial, and positivistic logics, the smart city risks further eroding democracy, privacy, and equity in favour of promoting privatization, surveillance, and an increased concentration of power and wealth among corporate and state elite. While the publicized promise of the smart city may continuously shift to reflect and co-opt oppositional narratives, its logics remain static, and its beneficiaries remain few. Applying a social justice-oriented lens which connects critical theory, postmodernism, poststructuralism, intersectional feminism, and anticolonial methodologies is crucial in reconceptualizing “smartness” and prioritizing public good.





Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type