This article investigates how the “constructivist turn” in public policy and international political economy informs the interaction of global ideas and local practice in water governance. We use the implementation of ideas associated with Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Lower Mekong river basin. This article provides some explanation of the attitudes in the villages in Cambodia due to the Sesan 2 Dam, which would see the relocation of thousands of people, damage fisheries, and inflict high coping costs on villagers. Based on 24 in-depth interviews with villagers, commune heads and local community leaders, we find diverse narratives which transcend the “pro or anti” dam narrative. We find four narrative types—myths, stories, noise and informed opinion, which relate to each other in degrees of social meaning and ideational force. Of these, the first two are more likely to be useful in terms of mobilization and policy-making. This typology provides a framework for analysis of social change in the studied villages and other contexts of policy translation. We should state that these four types are not separate from each other but are linked along two axis which together conscribe the four types of narratives outlined.
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