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Unpacking everyday urbanism: Practices and the making of (un)even urban waterscapes

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Article numbere1581
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/03/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>WIREs WATER
Issue number2
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date8/03/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Abstract: Inequalities in conditions of access to water are emblematic of contemporary urban life and have long been at the center of urban scholarship. This paper considers the theoretical and empirical potential of a focus on the everyday as a contribution to critical urban water studies. Drawing on research in Political Ecology and Critical Institutionalism, we focus on the intersection of everyday urbanism and water to reflect on whether such perspectives can further understandings of socio‐natural inequalities and “real” governance challenges in the urban waterscape. We suggest that a focus on the everyday brings attention to the hybrid arrangements that constitute urban waterscapes and offers new insights to the polycentric nature of water governance, agency, and everyday urban struggles. However, we also outline limitations of these studies in unpacking the concept of the everyday and in capturing the practices through which everyday life is constituted. We explore the potential of an engagement with Practice Theory as a sensitizing lens for developing grounded understandings of everyday life, its constituent practices, and how these change over time. Concurrently, we argue that Practice Theory could be strengthened by drawing on critical approaches that explain everyday urban governance through: (1) the linking of practices to broader patterns of inequality; (2) the multiple social identities of practitioners and the variability in their exercise of agency; (3) the role of institutions as crucial mediating mechanisms and the processes through which practices become enduring institutional arrangements. We, thus, conclude that these approaches are complementary rather than competing. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Water Governance