Aspects of value : an investigation of Washington state water governance
Jacob B. Fritz
May 8, 2018
Department or Program
Politics - Environmental Studies
This paper explores the formation of different manifestations of value within a context of increasing commodification of water. The project specifically investigates the relationship between the trend towards water commodification, as seen with the emergence of water trading markets, and the production of value. Grounded in the case study of Washington state water governance, the emergence of water trading markets can be understood as a specific process intended to enhance the various values of the state, both economic and otherwise. This marketization of water has been relatively successful in terms of the production of economic value but the expression of alternative forms of value (environmental, cultural, and spiritual) are limited as they are forcibly reduced to economic logic. This is problematic. By understanding water as a quasi-commodity and the history of its marketization we come to understand that dominant forms of political economic thought (Marxism and Neoliberalism) appear to be inadequate to the task of affirming alternative formations of value on their own terms. An opening is thus provided inviting imaginative thinking about natural resource management and the affirmation of various formations of value.