Institutionalizing Digital Infrastructures: Discursive Institutionalization of Public Platforms in Vienna
Critical scholars dealing with platform capitalism, platform urbanism and smart city developments have emphasized manifold challenges connected to the rise of digital platforms and in particular the “Tech Titans”. Due to their economic and political power, platforms are by now often understood as new forms of infrastructures, thus making them an inherent public issue. Alternative models of developing platforms as public infrastructures, such as the emerging concept of platform municipalism point to an ideological shift in planning ideas. However, research on the process of developing planning ideas and their connection to the actual implementation of public platforms is still rare. Thus, this article focuses on the discursive institutionalization of public platforms in Vienna, their ideological foundations and the discursive interactions between different agents to implement new digital infrastructures. The article finds that there has been an ideological shift in the strategic orientation of planning ideas towards a more human-centred development of platforms as new infrastructures. However, lack of coordination and institutional barriers persist. The article critically reflects on the role of local governments in developing digital infrastructures and thus contributes to debates on smart urbanism, platform urbanism and platform municipalism by providing in-depth knowledge on the case of Vienna.