Sociospatial understanding of water politics: tracing the multidimensionality of water reuse

Ross Beveridge
Urban Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK; ross.beveridge@glasgow.ac.uk

Timothy Moss
Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys), Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany; timothy.moss@hu-berlin.de

Matthias Naumann
Institute of Geographical Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany; matthias.naumann@fu-berlin.de

ABSTRACT: Much social science literature on water reuse focuses on problems of acceptance and economic problems, while the spatial and political dimensions remain under-researched. This paper addresses this deficit by reformulating the issue in terms of sociospatial politics of water reuse. It does this by drawing on the work of Mollinga (2008) and the Territory Place Scale Network (TPSN) framework (Jessop et al., 2008) to develop an analytical approach to the sociospatial politics of water in general, and water reuse in particular. The paper argues that Mollinga’s understanding of water politics as contested technical/physical, organisational/ managerial and regulatory/socioeconomic planes of human interventions can be deepened through further reflection on their implications for the four sociospatial dimensions of the TPSN framework. Such a comprehensive, multidimensional approach re-imagines the politics of water reuse, providing researchers with a heuristic device to trace the interventions through which water reuse plans disrupt existing arrangements, and avoid a concern for individual preferences and simplified notions of barriers and enablers. The potential of the analytical framework is explored using an empirical illustration of water reuse politics in the Berlin-Brandenburg region in Germany.

KEYWORDS: Water reuse, TPSN, governance, sociospatial politics of water, Germany