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Platform urbanism

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This is an article collection published in Urban Transformations.

Platform urbanism is a very new, emergent theme in urban futures research. The concept of platform urbanism is an elaboration of platform capitalism, which in itself is an idea developed by Srnicek (2017) when considering the increasingly central role of data – rather than traditional commodities and manufactured goods or manufacturing industries – in the economy. Platforms are the large, near-monopolistic corporations (from Facebook to Google and in between) that are emerging and thriving because they source data, process it, and are able to monetise it. This collection is based on a recognition that platform capitalism has significant urban expressions in platform urbanism: some of these expressions are well-known, from app-based platforms such as Airbnb and Deliveroo, to Taskrabbit, Uber, Alipay, and many others. There is a specifically urban character to many of these platforms: they tend to circulate, ‘land’, and be dependent on cities for their data, their service offerings, and their uptake. At the same time, there are deeper (sometimes commercial, sometimes not) developments underway, from platform-based urban governance systems (from city operating systems, to social credit systems as seen in Chinese cities), which herald the rise of new data-driven urbanisms experienced, expressed, commodified and controlled through the urban platform. This collection casts a critical eye on this emerging area of interest, by a.) establishing a critical take on platform urbanism, and b.) providing empirical examples of the workings of platform urbanism at different scales, in different socio-technical and national contexts, and in different spheres of urban life.

The collection will serve as a landmark, a focus point for those working in this rapidly developing area of research in urban studies. The articles will provide both useful theoretical insights, and also case studies for reference for further citation and development.

Edited by:

Niki Frantzeskaki, Chair Professor in Regional and Metropolitan Governance and Planning, Utrecht University, the Netherlands (n.frantzeskaki@uu.nl)

Federico Caprotti, Associate Professor in Human Geography, Department of Geography, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4EF, UK (f.caprotti@exeter.ac.uk)

I-Chun Catherine Chang, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN 55105-1899, USA (ichang@macalester.edu).


  1. Platform urbanism has emerged in recent years as an area of research into the ways in which digital platforms are increasingly central to the governance, economy, experience, and understanding of the city. In ...

    Authors: Federico Caprotti, I.-Chun Catherine Chang and Simon Joss
    Citation: Urban Transformations 2022 4:4
  2. Platform-based services are rapidly transforming urban work, lives and spaces around the world. The rise of platforms dependent on largely expendable labour relations, with significant migrant involvement, mus...

    Authors: Natasha A. Webster and Qian Zhang
    Citation: Urban Transformations 2021 3:10