The ideological justifications of the Smart City of Hamburg

Lidia Bär, Marinus Ossewaarde, Minna van Gerven*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


This article analyzes rhetoric as a mean of ideology reproduction on the base of digital public rhetoric of Hamburg's government on smart city agenda. With the aim to grasp ideology behind the technological optimist rhetoric about smart city and research its effects and functions, an interpretative analysis of empty signifiers was conducted. Interpretations of Horkheimer and Adorno, Žižek and Lacan serve as background for the research, which are introduced to enrich an existing (mainly Foucauldian) set of smart city critique. Inspired by critical theory, this analysis shows that ideology is reproduced by culture industry and indicates tendencies to implement instrumental reason, to harmonize the existing social and economic contradictions and mainly reproduces economic interests. Since the researched rhetors are as politicians in power to materialize their ideological convictions, the mystification of technology plays a crucial role as disciplining and controlling measure, which aims to stabilize and justify status quo and maintain the existing inequalities. Derived rhetoric elements, which indicate categorization of citizenship and reductionism of environmental issues demonstrate the high societal relevance of the study and emphasize the urgent need for critique on progressing urban digitalization.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102811
Early online date6 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Rhetorical analysis
  • Critique of ideology
  • Smart city
  • Culture industry
  • Instrumental reason
  • 22/2 OA procedure


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