Sociology of water: power and politics

Date

1/1/2014

Authors

Jordan, Dian

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Abstract

Water issues are often studied as conflicts; less is studied on how resolutions are negotiated and maintained. A number of factors influence how conflicts are framed and how resolutions are determined regarding shared waters. This dissertation explores the power and politics regarding water practices and policy development. Understanding who makes decisions and how those decisions are made for water rights is critical to realizing the consequences of market based decisions, lawsuits, and negotiated settlements. Decisions often ignore ecological and social sustainability stewardship needs. Ritzer's theory of integrative social analysis is used to present three case studies. The first case addresses the international dispute between the United States and Mexico regarding the transboundary border of the Rio Grande River. The second case analyzes interstate conflicts between urban populations of Texas and the State of Oklahoma regarding the Red River Compact. The third case identifies power and conflict between governmental institutions and Oklahoma Indian tribes over the sale of Sardis Lake water. The cases build a linking research agenda to explain how macro and micro functions influence water discourse. In essence, sociology of water can be understood as "a practice in which structure and agency `meet' to reproduce and transform society" (Mollinga 2008:7).

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Keywords

Sociology, Public policy, American history

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