The Infrastructure of Markets: From Electric Power to Electronic Data

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Contributed date

February 6, 2023 - 10:28am

Critical Commentary

Abstract: Following the partial deregulation of the electricity industry in the 1990s, a number of electricity markets were instituted in the United States. As relatively new experiments, electricity markets open up possibilities for anthropologists to see markets as infrastructures of information. I argue that making markets in electricity has been a project in reorganizing information relationships, transferring the burden to organize information onto market actors, making them into data processors and the markets themselves into infrastructures of information. This article is part of a yearlong multilocale ethnographic project that seeks to understand how traders, analysts, engineers, and economists make markets in electricity in the United States. It draws on 5 months of participant observation at a market intelligence company that produces data and databases and sells price forecasts to traders in the deregulated markets of electricity. It maps the work practices of data cleaning and maintenance—a kind of labor I call “database work.”


Özden-Schilling, Canay. 2016. “The Infrastructure of Markets: From Electric Power to Electronic Data.” Economic Anthropology 3 (1): 68–80.

Cite as

Canay Özden-Schilling, "The Infrastructure of Markets: From Electric Power to Electronic Data", contributed by James Adams, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 6 February 2023, accessed 27 May 2024.