The politics of smart expectations: interrogating the knowledge claims of smart mobility

Laura van Oers, Evelien de Hoop, Eric Jolivet, Simon Marvin, Philipp Späth, Rob Raven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper studies the performativity of smart mobility expectations in envisioning urban futures. Smart mobility, or ICT-enabled transport services, are increasingly considered a necessary ingredient for sustainability transitions in cities. Expectations of smart mobility's contribution to such a transition are constituted by a strong belief in the transformative potential of data collection and use. These knowledge claims embedded in smart mobility expectations tend to be unchallenged, yet contribute to a particular future vision of urban mobility. Our empirical analysis, which draws on two empirical smart cycling case studies in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Bordeaux, France, underlines the politics of such smart knowledge claims in two smart cycling projects and identifies distinct processes as to how such claims may shape and structure mobility futures. We observe intimate entanglements between what is being developed in terms of technologies and services; and the societal needs that the projects’ expectations promise to fulfil. At the same time, we witness a disentanglement of these interconnected knowledge claims when projects unfold, leaving the promise of (un)achieved societal benefits out of view. Indeed, smart knowledge claims carried strong inherent legitimacy in the cases studied, thereby risking to exclude non-smart alternatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102604
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Knowledge politics
  • Legitimation
  • Smart cycling
  • Smart mobility
  • Sociology of expectations
  • Visions

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