Defining Calculative Practices for Circular Economy: the Case of Six European Cities

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


This paper explores how an ambiguous term such as Circular Economy helps to shape the calculative practices to assess its value. This paper is based on the experience of six European cities: Amsterdam, Berlin, Cluj Napoca, Milan, Paris, and Vejle. The cities participate in a large European project aiming at creating and implementing circular practices at urban level and measuring their effectiveness. The author of this paper is the project’s principal investigator of this project involving 28 partners including municipalities, grassroots citizens’ organizations, research institutions, and small and medium-size enterprises. The project started in the year 2019 and will last for three years. The initial issue that the cities faced in their journey towards Circular Economy is the ambiguity of the term itself. Their experience led to this paper and to the main research question: how does an ambiguous concept such as Circular Economy establishes itself and becomes concretised into stable calculative practices? Combining literature on ambiguity with the literature on performativity and the relative misfires (Callon, 2010), this paper explores how an opaque, ambiguous construct such as ‘Circular Economy’ can result in the creation of different networks and, ultimately in established calculative practices. Through an in-depth comparative case study within the six European cities mentioned above, this paper explores how the process of negotiating and contracting results in the implementation of an ambiguous concept thus shaping cities’ action and the relative calculative practices
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - 2021


  • Circular economy
  • Calculative practices
  • Performance management
  • European cities
  • Ambiguity