Chile has gone through more than four decades of neoliberalism, inaugurated by the civil–military dictatorship (1973–1990). One of the central aspects of the current model is the neoliberal exploitation of natural commons such as land, water and minerals. In some territories, such as the central-north province of Petorca, the accelerated extractivism of this period has disrupted the reproduction of life cycles, leading to disruptive influences in the form of "socio-metabolic fractures". In this article we highlight aspects of this process as it relates to rural community water management. Based on literature and media analysis we first describe the case of Petorca from a political, ecological point of view. We then use the concept of institutional bricolage (ad hoc construction) to analyze qualitative interviews, allowing us to establish a more in-depth insight into the organizational structures of Petorca. Although we point to the weakening of community organization, we highlight in this article how, in a scenario of profound dispossession, as is taking place in the province of Petorca, ongoing experiences of community organization continue to emerge and challenge the impacts of the socio-metabolic rift. Thereby we shed light upon the often less visible structures of power and the processes of meaning and legitimacy within these social innovations.
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