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Eberhard, Rolfe (2002) Urban water pricing : A critical-realist approach. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Why water? And why pricing? Many millions of poor people struggle to obtain ten litres of water per day yet much of the water currently supplied is used to support the meat-rich diets of the affluent, to fill their swimming pools and to irrigate golf courses for their leisure. These contrasts have never been more stark than they are today. Tensions and conflict over access to water, already prevalent in many regions, are certain to increase. In this context, what are the consequences of water pricing, what role should water pricing play and to what end? Pricing policy advocacy based on neo-classical economic theory asserts that the objectives of Pareto-efficient and sustainable resource use can be attained through much greater reliance on markets, privatisation and pricing, and that issues related to the distribution of resources are a separate, essentially political, matter. I contend that the theoretical basis of this policy advocacy is fundamentally flawed and that a more comprehensive theoretical framework is needed in order to understand pricing decisions, the affect of these decisions on different groups and the prognoses for change. In particular, these decisions and their influence need to be understood with reference to the specific political-economic context, both current and historic. The objectives of the thesis are thus twofold: to point out the weaknesses and fallacies inherent in the neo-classical theoretical framework underpinning current policy advocacy in the urban water sector and to develop a comprehensive theoretical and methodological framework for the analysis of urban water pricing. I make two original contributions to the literature on water pricing. I develop a methodological framework which is informed by critical-realism for understanding and analysing urban water pricing which is unique and specific to the urban water sector and I use primary and secondary data to demonstrate the implications of using this methodological framework.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

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