This chapter identifies insights into the politics of fresh water and introduces the contributions to the book The Politics of Fresh Water: Access, conflict and identity. First, the social, physical, and ecological components of water systems are interconnected, forming a hydro-social system. Second, instead of being inevitable, freshwater crisis is a socially constructed experience, a lived phenomenon. Water scarcity is not simply the result of what nature has to offer but always involves power relations and political decisions. The water crisis is not only about who is granted access to safe, clean water (when, where, and why), but also about the extent to which the shrinking of available fresh water influences people’s everyday lives at the national and subnational scales. The water crisis also reflects the impact of modernization and neoliberal policies on identity and sense of community. After all, water is the source of livelihood and survival for all people, in every location, at every geographical scale, and the meaning of access to water is inextricably connected to cultural, societal, and political identities.

This chapter is part of the edited book The Politics of Fresh Water: Access, conflict and identity.


Natural Resources and the Environment

Publication Date


Journal Title

The Politics of Fresh Water


Taylor & Francis

Document Type

Book Chapter


This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Taylor & Francis in The Politics of Fresh Water in 2016.