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The rhythms of infrastructure

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Anthropology Today
Issue number4
Volume32
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)17-20
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Technology organizes social life in different ways. This article focuses on the temporal ordering brought about by household energy technologies and the broader infrastructures upon which they depend. Such technology saves time, and the energy services so provided allow for comfort, flexibility and the independence from natural rhythms. While many such services are produced by distant infrastructures, the technology is neither invisible nor impermeable. On the contrary, our empirical results show that routinized human labour is needed to achieve comfort and convenience and to respond to the weather. Moreover, infrastructure failures, such as blackouts, create moments in which the rhythms of everyday life and the relationship between humans and technological systems are renegotiated. Surprisingly, the rhythms of heating work and those of sudden infrastructure failures are not only a source of inconvenience and trouble, but are also appreciated.