Liquid Dynamics: the hydrosocial cycle and the radical politics of water

  • Robin De La Motte

Student thesis: Phd


The thesis attempts to develop an understanding of the reproduction of power in the context of the water sector, in relation to public sector water provision, water privatization, and community-based alternatives to both. In pursuit of that it develops a "socio-political ecology" which combines the methodology of political ecology with the theoretical framework of historical-geographical materialism and the concept of social capital. it examines the hydrosocial cycle as a socionatural process which involves the continuous (re)construction of the socionatural water cycle through the (re)construction of "water" demand, supply and scarcity, as well as the socionatural construction of the state. The water sector in Venezuela serves as an illustrative example for how first, different forms of capital interact to reproduce a mode of power; second, that reproduction tends to produce a concentration of power; and third, how internal contradictions and external pressures can lead to changes in the mode of power. In particular, points of crisis produce new recognitions of radical contingency - the potential for the mode of power to be fundamentally altered - and thereby politicization and new forms of activism.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorErik Swyngedouw (Supervisor) & Diana Mitlin (Supervisor)


  • socionature
  • water
  • Venezuela

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