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(Re)theorizing the Politics of Bottled Water: Water Insecurity in the Context of Weak Regulatory Regimes

Public Administration Division, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Sede Región Centro, Aguascalientes 20313 Ciudad de México 01210, Mexico
Water 2019, 11(4), 658;
Received: 6 December 2018 / Revised: 17 March 2019 / Accepted: 26 March 2019 / Published: 30 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
PDF [254 KB, uploaded 30 March 2019]


Water insecurity in developing country contexts has frequently led individuals and entire communities to shift their consumptive patterns towards bottled water. Bottled water is sometimes touted as a mechanism to enact the human right to water through distribution across drought-stricken or infrastructure-compromised communities. However, the global bottled water industry is a multi-billion dollar major business. How did we reach a point where the commodification of a human right became not only commonly accepted but even promoted? In this paper, I argue that a discussion of the politics of bottled water necessitates a re-theorization of what constitutes “the political” and how politics affects policy decisions regarding the governance of bottled water. In this article I examine bottled water as a political phenomenon that occurs not in a vacuum but in a poorly regulated context. I explore the role of weakened regulatory regimes and regulatory capture in the emergence, consolidation and, ultimately, supremacy of bottled water over network-distributed, delivered-by-a-public utility tap water. My argument uses a combined framework that interweaves notions of “the political”, ideas on regulatory capture, the concept of “the public”, branding, and regulation theory to retheorize how we conceptualize the politics of bottled water. View Full-Text
Keywords: water politics; bottled water; water governance; urban water; re-theorizing water politics; bottled water; water governance; urban water; re-theorizing
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Pacheco-Vega, R. (Re)theorizing the Politics of Bottled Water: Water Insecurity in the Context of Weak Regulatory Regimes. Water 2019, 11, 658.

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