The Second Enclosure of the Commons: Water Privatization and Marketization As an Austerity Policy

Thursday, July 13, 2017
John McIntyre - Teaching Room 208 (University of Glasgow)
Petra Dobner , Political Science, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
The privatization and marketization of water services (and partly also water bodies) has become an essential element of austerity programs world wide. Advocates of this policy argue that private enterprises operate more efficiently, serve more people better, including the poor, and thus contribute to a state’s economic growth. For the last 25 years this view has been defended by its neoliberal promotors and has been challenged at the same time by an overwhelming amount of citizens and civil society organizations. In fact, there is little empirical and scientific evidence that any of the promised benefits ever came true in any of the countries where water was included in austerity strategies. It rather seems that water privatization is an essential part of the “second enclosure of the commons”. The paper will look at strategies as well as immediate and long term outcomes of the water privatization agenda.