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Fluid Governance: Scalar politics in the South African waterscape

Ramasar, Vasna LU (2014) In Lund Dissertations in Sustainability Science
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in English

Practices of scaling are an everyday part of governance. To ignore the way scaling is used as an intended or unintended means of securing power is a depoliticizing act. In this thesis, I consider processes of scaling and how they shape water governance in South Africa. Investigating three cases, namely, the De Hoop Dam development, water service delivery in Johannesburg and proposed hydraulic fracturing of the Karoo, I show how scale framing, scale jumping, scale bending and scale fixing are used to shift decision making across scales and levels. Actors produce and transform scale as a means of inclusion or exclusion. Based on the findings of the research, I draw three conclusions regarding water... (More)
Popular Abstract in English

Practices of scaling are an everyday part of governance. To ignore the way scaling is used as an intended or unintended means of securing power is a depoliticizing act. In this thesis, I consider processes of scaling and how they shape water governance in South Africa. Investigating three cases, namely, the De Hoop Dam development, water service delivery in Johannesburg and proposed hydraulic fracturing of the Karoo, I show how scale framing, scale jumping, scale bending and scale fixing are used to shift decision making across scales and levels. Actors produce and transform scale as a means of inclusion or exclusion. Based on the findings of the research, I draw three conclusions regarding water governance, scale and power. Firstly, water governance in South Africa is highly political and inequalities and injustices are being perpetuated, especially against poor, black residential water users. Patterns of water use have not changed substantially despite reform processes. Secondly, IWRM-led water governance has flaws that require a rethink of the discourse, especially in developing country contexts. Thirdly, scales are constantly produced through social relations and processes of scaling are political. The politics of scaling are constantly shaping environmental governance, social relations and the material world and deserves our attention. (Less)
Abstract
This thesis offers a critical analysis of the scaling of water governance in South Africa and its implications for water access and allocation. As the complexity and severity of environmental problems increases, there is a growing tendency to look to environmental governance to offer solutions. I contend that water governance, as with all forms of environmental governance, is never an apolitical endeavour yet the antagonistic and collective decision-making aspect of environmental politics is often subsumed in a drive to foster sustainability. One of the ways that this de-politicisation occurs is through the uncritical application of scalar concepts. Scalar configurations are an outcome of the perpetual flux of socio-spatial and... (More)
This thesis offers a critical analysis of the scaling of water governance in South Africa and its implications for water access and allocation. As the complexity and severity of environmental problems increases, there is a growing tendency to look to environmental governance to offer solutions. I contend that water governance, as with all forms of environmental governance, is never an apolitical endeavour yet the antagonistic and collective decision-making aspect of environmental politics is often subsumed in a drive to foster sustainability. One of the ways that this de-politicisation occurs is through the uncritical application of scalar concepts. Scalar configurations are an outcome of the perpetual flux of socio-spatial and environmental dynamics and scales are therefore transformed through social conflict and political-economic struggle. Four mechanisms of scaling can be identified as follows: scale framing, scale jumping, scale bending and scale fixing. My research focuses on how the processes of scaling embedded in water governance affect prioritization in water access and allocations and ultimately, justice and fairness. The research examines how the production of scale and politics of scaling can be used to manipulate water access and allocation to the benefit and cost of different actor groups.

The intertwined nature of society with water means that ecological, economic and political forces are constantly shaping the hydrosocial landscape. Three formal decisions by the government are examined to uncover how the politics of scaling has affected water goverrnance. These decisions are the approval of the construction of the De Hoop Dam, water service delivery mechanisms employed in the city of Johannesburg and the decision to explore hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo. In analysing these decisions, I show how cross-scalar dynamics; production of scale; and four processes of scaling are used in governance processes as means of empowerment and disempowerment. The findings from the case show that historical patterns of privilege and disadvantage are perpetuated through processes of scaling. Three main findings arise out of the research. Firstly, scaling processes are actively used by actors in water governance to empower some and disempower others – thus scaling processes are political processes. Secondly, politics of scaling influences and is influenced by social relations and material practices in South Africa. Thirdly, the theoretical development of scale can benefit from an interdisciplinary approach drawing from the different disciplines such as political science and human geography, working on scaling and governance. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Dr Desai, Vandana, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway College, University of London
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
governance, scale, water, politics
in
Lund Dissertations in Sustainability Science
pages
147 pages
publisher
Lund University
defense location
Room Ostrom, Josephson, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund
defense date
2014-11-07 10:15
ISBN
978-91-979832-8-0
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
517e3e3d-5627-43d8-87e9-7f69f04360d0 (old id 4729486)
date added to LUP
2014-10-23 13:39:56
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:15
@misc{517e3e3d-5627-43d8-87e9-7f69f04360d0,
  abstract     = {This thesis offers a critical analysis of the scaling of water governance in South Africa and its implications for water access and allocation. As the complexity and severity of environmental problems increases, there is a growing tendency to look to environmental governance to offer solutions. I contend that water governance, as with all forms of environmental governance, is never an apolitical endeavour yet the antagonistic and collective decision-making aspect of environmental politics is often subsumed in a drive to foster sustainability. One of the ways that this de-politicisation occurs is through the uncritical application of scalar concepts. Scalar configurations are an outcome of the perpetual flux of socio-spatial and environmental dynamics and scales are therefore transformed through social conflict and political-economic struggle. Four mechanisms of scaling can be identified as follows: scale framing, scale jumping, scale bending and scale fixing. My research focuses on how the processes of scaling embedded in water governance affect prioritization in water access and allocations and ultimately, justice and fairness. The research examines how the production of scale and politics of scaling can be used to manipulate water access and allocation to the benefit and cost of different actor groups. <br/><br>
The intertwined nature of society with water means that ecological, economic and political forces are constantly shaping the hydrosocial landscape. Three formal decisions by the government are examined to uncover how the politics of scaling has affected water goverrnance. These decisions are the approval of the construction of the De Hoop Dam, water service delivery mechanisms employed in the city of Johannesburg and the decision to explore hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo. In analysing these decisions, I show how cross-scalar dynamics; production of scale; and four processes of scaling are used in governance processes as means of empowerment and disempowerment. The findings from the case show that historical patterns of privilege and disadvantage are perpetuated through processes of scaling. Three main findings arise out of the research. Firstly, scaling processes are actively used by actors in water governance to empower some and disempower others – thus scaling processes are political processes. Secondly, politics of scaling influences and is influenced by social relations and material practices in South Africa. Thirdly, the theoretical development of scale can benefit from an interdisciplinary approach drawing from the different disciplines such as political science and human geography, working on scaling and governance.},
  author       = {Ramasar, Vasna},
  isbn         = {978-91-979832-8-0},
  keyword      = {governance,scale,water,politics},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {147},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x95291a0)},
  series       = {Lund Dissertations in Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Fluid Governance: Scalar politics in the South African waterscape},
  year         = {2014},
}