Abstract: When Worlds Collide: The Government and Electrification, 1892-1939

Jonathan Coopersmith


Electricity, as a technology with scientific dimensions and as a utility requiring major investments, rapidly became an international business venture. However, electricity also had public dimensions that attracted public authorities. The State became involved in the electrification process not only as a regulator and standard setter, but also as a client and eventually as an investor, either through collaboration with the private sector or as the sole actor through nationalization. Although the State confined itself within the boundaries of its territory, there is no doubt that its gradual intervention had a significant impact on global electrification and that the constant presence of the State gave electrification a strong ideological dimension easily perceptible in speeches and decision making.

BEH On-Line Paper