Pricing air to starve the fire: an institutional ethnography of smart prosperity




McCartney, Kevin

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Smart Prosperity (SP) brings together multi-sectoral business leaders, policy experts, unions and progressive NGO change makers to align Canada’s civil society messaging on climate change action and policy. SP has recently found national relevance thanks to considerable policy uptake by Justin Trudeau’s ruling federal Liberal party. Rooted in a neoclassical economic model of demand-management, SP positions themselves as the architects of an energy transition regime of consumer price signals. This study examines 118 of SP’s academic and policy reports from 2008 to 2018 using an institutional ethnographic approach to textual analysis to consider the ideological and ontological consequences of SP’s policy program for the tender geographies of communities in Canada. SP is found to contrive a terrain of energy possibilities that rests on administrative abstraction, economism and market fetishism, and which places the economic administrator at the heart of Canada’s social and natural relations.



Energy transition, Climate change, Canada, Carbon tax, Environmental economics, Smart Prosperity