Infrastructures in Practice : The Dynamics of Demand in Networked Societies book cover
1st Edition

Infrastructures in Practice
The Dynamics of Demand in Networked Societies

ISBN 9781138476165
Published September 25, 2018 by Routledge
236 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Infrastructures in Practice shows how infrastructures and daily life shape each other. Power grids, roads and broadband make modern lifestyles possible – at the same time, their design and day-to-day operation depends on what people do at home and at work. This volume investigates the entanglement of supply and demand. It explains how standards and 'normal' ways of living have changed over time and how infrastructures have changed with them. Studies of grid expansion and disruption, heating systems, the internet, urban planning and office standards, smart meters and demand management reveal this dynamic interdependence.

This is the first book to examine the interdependence between infrastructures and the practices of daily life. It offers an analysis of how new technologies, lifestyles and standards become normalised and fall out of use. It brings together diverse disciplines – history, sociology, science studies – to develop social theories and accounts of how infrastructures and practices constitute each other at different scales and over time. It shows how networks and demands are steered and shaped, and how social and political visions are woven into infrastructures, past, present and future.

Original, wide-ranging and theoretically informed, this book puts the many practices of daily life back into the study of infrastructures. The result is a fresh understanding of how resource-intensive forms of consumption and energy demand have come about and what is needed to move towards a more sustainable lower carbon future.

Table of Contents

Part I: Evolving Infrastructures

1. Introduction

Elizabeth Shove, Frank Trentmann and Matt Watson

2. Infrastructures, Practices and the Dynamics of Demand

Olivier Coutard and Elizabeth Shove

Part II: Varieties of Infrastructures

3. Wires

Conor Harrison

4. Situating Electrification: Examples of Infrastructure-Practice Dynamics from Thailand and Laos

Mattijs Smits

5. Chopping, Stacking and Burning Wood: Rhythms and Variations in Provision

Jenny Rinkinen

6. Self-Sufficiency in Architectural and Urban Projects: Toward Small-Pipe Engineering?

Fanny Lopez

Part III: Standards, Planning, Adaptation

7. The Office: How Standards Define ‘Normal’ Design Practices and Work Infrastructures

Noel Cass, James Faulconbridge and John Connaughton

8. The Construction of Central Heating in Britain

Anna Carlsson-Hyslop

9. District Heating in Belgrade: The Politics of Provision

Charlotte Johnson

10. Unleashing the Internet: The Normalisation of Wireless Connectivity

Janine Morley

11. Making Space for the Car at Home: Planning, Priorities and Practices

Nicola Spurling

Part IV: Drawing Boundaries and Managing Networks: State, Market and Designers

12. Contentious Interfaces: Exploring the Junction between Collective Provision and Individual


Catherine Grandclément, Magali Pierre, Elizabeth Shove and Alain Nadaï

13. The French Electricity Smart Meter: Reconfiguring Consumers and Providers

Aude Danieli

Part V: Steering, Managing and Disrupting Demand

14. Co-Constituting Supply and Demand: Managing Electricity in Two Neighbouring Control Rooms

Antti Silvast

15. Prices as Instruments of Demand Management: Interpreting the Signals

Yolande Strengers

16. Disruption in and across Time

Heather Chappells and Frank Trentmann

17. Infrastructures in Practice: Implications for the Future

Elizabeth Shove, Matt Watson and Frank Trentmann

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Elizabeth Shove is Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University and Principal Investigator of the DEMAND Centre (Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand), funded by the Research Councils UK. She has written about the dynamics of social practice, infrastructures, material culture and consumption including The Dynamics of Social Practice: everyday life and how it changes with Mika Pantzar and Matt Watson (Sage, 2012) and The Nexus of practices: connections, constellations and practitioners, edited with Allison Hui and Theodore Schatzki (Routledge, 2017).

Frank Trentmann is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, and also at the Consumer Society Research Centre, University of Helsinki. He was the Principal Investigator (PI) of the 'Material Cultures of Energy' project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK and is also a member of the research centre DEMAND. His latest book is Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First (Penguin, 2016) with several foreign translations.


"This fascinating, innovative volume explores infrastructure in daily use in a rich variety of ways across different cultures. It furnishes a wonderful way into exploring the centrality of infrastructure to our lives."

- Geoffrey C. Bowker, Donald Bren Professor in Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine, US

"All too often analyses of infrastructures focus either on material networks and the services they deliver, or on how to deal with the growing demand for such services. The great merit of this book is to take a more nuanced view and put the co-development of everyday practices, the use of infrastructure-connected appliances and the materiality of infrastructure systems centre-stage."

- Harald Rohracher, Professor of Technology and Social Change, Linköping University, Sweden

"With an impressive range of cases, methods and perspectives, this book makes visible the different ways in which infrastructures ratchet up the demand for services and energy. The book offers an important way out of the impasse of the conventional separation of thinking about future demand and about the associated need for infrastructure. Instead it shows how infrastructure and demand co-evolve. It has important implications for how we select different pathways for the future."

- Greg Marsden, Professor of Transport Governance, Leeds Institute for Transport Studies, UK