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Article

Between Confrontation and Cooperation: Right to Water Advocacy in the Courts, on the Streets, and at the Capitols in the United States

1
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University, Interchurch Building, 475 Riverside Dr., New York, NY 10015, USA
2
Department of Legal Studies, Central European University, Quellenstr. 51, 1100 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Bruce M. Wilson, Arkaja Singh, Daniel Brinks and Athanasios Loukas
Water 2021, 13(24), 3541; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243541
Received: 27 September 2021 / Revised: 29 November 2021 / Accepted: 8 December 2021 / Published: 10 December 2021
Communities across the United States face a widespread water crisis including risks of contamination, rate increases, shut-offs for non-payment, and dilapidating infrastructure. Against this background, a right to water movement has emerged which has found its strength in coalition-building and collectivity. Activists demand change using the framing of “water is a human right”, socially constructing the right to water from below. Based on more than 25 semi-structured interviews with water advocates and activists, our article explores how movement participants used the human rights framework to advocate for clean and affordable water for all. We used political opportunity theory and conceptions of government “openness” and “closedness” to examine when and how advocates decided to use confrontational and cooperative approaches. We identified a push and pull of different strategies in three key spaces: in the courts, on the streets, and at the Capitols. Advocates used adversarial approaches including protests and civil disobedience, reliance on human rights mechanisms, and to a more limited extent litigation simultaneously with cooperative approaches such as engaging with legislators and the development of concrete proposals and plans for ensuring water affordability. This adaptiveness, persistence, and ability to identify opportunities likely explains the movement’s initial successes in addressing the water crisis. View Full-Text
Keywords: right to water; advocacy; activism; social movement; socio-economic rights; United States; political opportunity; coalition-building; collective action; human rights from below right to water; advocacy; activism; social movement; socio-economic rights; United States; political opportunity; coalition-building; collective action; human rights from below
MDPI and ACS Style

Kozikis, S.; Winkler, I.T. Between Confrontation and Cooperation: Right to Water Advocacy in the Courts, on the Streets, and at the Capitols in the United States. Water 2021, 13, 3541. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243541

AMA Style

Kozikis S, Winkler IT. Between Confrontation and Cooperation: Right to Water Advocacy in the Courts, on the Streets, and at the Capitols in the United States. Water. 2021; 13(24):3541. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243541

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kozikis, Sabrina, and Inga T. Winkler. 2021. "Between Confrontation and Cooperation: Right to Water Advocacy in the Courts, on the Streets, and at the Capitols in the United States" Water 13, no. 24: 3541. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243541

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