AuthorUnal, Serhan
Position"The Current Economy: Electricity Markets and Techno-Economics" by Canay Ozden-Schilling

The Current Economy: Electricity Markets and Techno-Economics, by Canay Ozden-Schilling (Stanford University Press, 2021) 224 pages, ISBN 978-1503612273 (hardcover), ISBN 9781503628212 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1503628229 (ebook)

The Current Economy presents an economic anthropologic analysis of neoliberal transformation in the electricity sector using the United States as a case study. As a piece of economic anthropology, the book does not include a detailed technical background or a quantitative study of economic phenomena. Rather, it merges a qualitative interpretation of electricity techno-economics with a narrative of socio-economic developments that created a neoliberal transformation in the electricity industry. The author herself explains that the book takes us to the "cultural settings" of different groups related to the electricity sector, such as technical experts, business professionals and consumer groups. She argues that those cultures "are what give electricity its markets today" (pg 4). Parallel to this, one of the most powerful aspects of the book is that it has a detailed account of ethnographic work about various groups taking place in the neoliberal transformation.

The book seeks to show "that novel economic reasonings, market-making ambition, and expertise originate in heterogeneous technological domains". The author focuses on "work cultures" that different groups have in the electricity market. This seems apt methodologically as well, since the author has conducted much fieldwork in a perfectly planned manner. During her fieldwork, she conducted interviews with the 'founding fathers' of liberal electricity markets, such as Richard Schmalensee; worked at a private market consulting company in the US to learn what they sell to their customers and how they construct their databases; collaborated with a group of engineers focusing on optimisation in the supply-demand mechanisms of real time electricity markets; and spent time with founders and members of grassroots movements protesting specific electricity projects.

In the first chapter, Ozden-Schilling explores the dynamics behind deregulation in the electricity industry as a techno-economic activity and seeks to shed light on the ideological history of electricity deregulation in the US. In the chapter, she shows that economics alone does not shape regulatory decision-making, but it more resembles a joint practice of economists and engineers. These technical electricity...

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