Contested Water

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-03-15
  • Publisher: Mit Pr
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Attempts by local governments to privatize water services have met with furiousopposition. Activists argue that to give private companies control of the water supply is to turnwater from a common resource into a marketized commodity. Moreover, to cede local power to a globalcorporation puts communities at the center of controversies over economic globalization. In Contested Water, Joanna Robinson examines local social movement organizingagainst water privatization, looking closely at battles for control of local water services inStockton, California, and Vancouver, British Columbia. The movements in these two communities haddifferent trajectories, used different tactics, and experienced different outcomes. Robinsonanalyzes the factors that shaped these two struggles. Drawing on extensive interviews with movementactors, political leaders, and policymakers and detailed analysis of textual material, Robinsonshows that the successful campaign in Vancouver drew on tactics, opportunities, and narratives fromthe broader antiglobalization movement, with activists emphasizing the threats to local democracyand accountability; the less successful movement in Stockton centered on a ballot initiative thatwas made meaningless by a pre-emptive city council vote. Robinson finds that global forces arereshaping local movements, particularly those that oppose neoliberal reforms at the municipal level.She argues that anti--water privatization movements that link local and international concerns andbuild wide-ranging coalitions at local and global levels offer an effective way to counter economicglobalization. Successful challenges to globalization will not necessarily come from transnationalmovements but rather from movements that are connected globally but rooted in localcommunities.

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