The political economy of water, competing conceptions of the water commons

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2018
Thesis identifier
  • T15064
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 200767774
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The struggle over water has been historically contentious. This struggle is defined by a struggle over the right to water. The right to water is steeped in a world of legal relations wrapped up in the complex property arrangements that comprise the global economy. These globally constituted arrangements impact water supply at a local level; yet, on a more fundamental level, these property arrangements reflect the dominant mode of production. By way of neoliberal policy reform economic globalisation increasingly encloses all aspects of social reproduction, including water and sanitation services (WSS). As private property increasingly becomes the prevailing form of property of the global economy common or collective rights and institutions are eclipsed. Although resistance to neoliberalism is widespread and diverse civil society within liberal democracies is comprised of competing and contradictory interests that mitigate against cooperative or shared appeals to a water commons. Diametrically opposed class interests increasingly invoke the language of the water commons when staking claim to water thereby raising critical questions concerning both the nature of the so-called water commons and the efficacy of such an approach. This thesis offers a radical critique of the idea of the water commons, one consisting of a comprehensive understanding of rights within the broader context of liberal democracy: that is, how the struggle over the right to water is defined by broader unequal property relations that characterize the capitalist mode of production. By way of a political economy critique this thesis offers a holistic and robust theoretical understanding of the struggle over the right to water by reinvigorating the question of property in the context of competing conceptualisations of water commons discourse.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Miller, David
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2018
Former identifier
  • 9912636791702996