Keeping Systems at Work: Electricity Infrastructure from Control Rooms to Household Practices
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScience & Technology Studies. 2014, 27 (2), 93-114.
This article discusses the reliability of electricity supply and the management of its uncertainties from a systems theoretical point of view. We begin by outlining recent Science and Technology Studies (STS) literature about energy systems, infrastructures and practices concerning their use and argue that many current discussions hold promise in two directions: one concerns the brittleness and uncertainty of the electricity system that is seen as an ongoing achievement, the other is about broader structuring factors and contexts that should also be acknowledged when researching such systems. With an aim of developing this two-part focus, the paper advances systems theoretical considerations about the electricity infrastructure and proposes an analysis tool to study the necessary reductions of complexity of the infrastructure in two emblematic settings. The sites are infrastructure control rooms on the one hand and households on the other hand. The article concludes by discussing the different reductions of complexity by electricity users and electricity experts through using the theoretical point of view presented in the article.