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The Global Economy, Resource Conflicts, and Transnational Social Movements: Dimensions of Resistance to Water Privatization

Schroering, Caitlin H (2021) The Global Economy, Resource Conflicts, and Transnational Social Movements: Dimensions of Resistance to Water Privatization. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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While studies show that water privatization decreases access to safe water and increases cost, multinational companies continue to buy water systems worldwide. Around the world, people are also organizing to resist these policies and reclaim the public sphere, including the human right to water and other necessities for life. Conflicts over water—and even its scarcity—are human-caused events that have socio-political, economic causes. From Cochabamba, Bolivia to Flint, Michigan, and from the Movement of People Against Dams in Brazil to environmental activists in Pittsburgh, people are coming together to fight for control of their water. The idea of water as a human right—versus a commodity, privately controlled and sold at high prices— is at the center of this debate. This dissertation coalesces around multiple areas of social inquiry, including environmental sociology, resource conflicts, political ecology, transnational social movements, and feminist and decolonial research methodologies. It asks 1) How are transnational movements communicating and organizing around water and other fundamental rights? and 2) How are movements engaging with and learning from each other, and is the “West to the rest” paradigm subverted in these interactions? To answer these questions, I conducted extensive fieldwork with two movements fighting against water privatization, one in Brazil and one in the United States. I used ethnographic, autoethnographic, comparative, and world-historical methods to show how global communications and organizing are occurring around water and how Global North movements are engaging with and learning from the Global South and vice versa, with Global South movements playing a more prominent and innovative role than previous scholarship demonstrates. While there is literature that explores the linkages between Global South led movements and argues the importance of those movements as producers of knowledge, the critique that ideas in transnational organizing flow “from the West to the rest,” and that the North continues to dominant even within Global South organizations, persists in the transnational social movement literature. This research contributes to that literature and provides new insights on counter-hegemonic global solidarity networks for water justice and human rights, and transnational movement networks and their political impacts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Schroering, Caitlin Hchs203@pitt.educhs2030000-0003-3416-3441
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairStaggenborg,
Committee CoChairSmith,
Committee MemberMarkoff,
Committee MemberGonzález Rivas,
Committee MemberBaiocchi, GianpaoloGB97@NYU.EDU
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 June 2021
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 16 June 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 305
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: resource conflicts, right to water, water grabbing, water privatization, decolonial research methodologies, translocal social movements, transnational social movements, counter hegemonic movements, alter-globalizations, anti-dam struggles, Brazil
Additional Information: Corrected version with erratum uploaded on 2/9/2022. Notes: Incorrect numbers were cited in Chapter 5 for the number of lead line replacements, and this has been corrected. Additionally, there were several mistakes to in-text citations and one citation missing from the references, which have been corrected.
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 20:15
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2022 15:13


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