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Water is not (yet) a commodity: Commodification and rationalization revisited

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Esteban CastroORCiD



The article examines the valuation and commodification of freshwater. It argues that if a conceptually restricted concept of commodification is applied most water in the planet remains un-commodified owing to slow and fragmentary character of the rationalization process in water control and management activities. In particular, the process involved in the valuation of water remains marred by protracted assumptions such as that water (and Nature more generally) has no pre-economic or pre-social value, that the amount of freshwater available to humans is endless and self-purifying, and that water is no more than a resource for humans to use at will. The article argues that water control and management activities in most countries fail to reach levels of calculability and predictability characteristic of capitalist commodification processes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Castro JE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Figurations

Year: 2013

Volume: 2

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/02/2013

Date deposited: 04/11/2012

ISSN (electronic): 2166-6644

Publisher: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library


Notes: Full Journal title Human Figurations: Long-term Perspectives on the Human Condition