Values, meanings, and positionalities: the controversial valuation of water in Rio de Janeiro

A.A.R. Ioris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water is not only a valuable substance, but is also valued in different ways dependent on substantive social, ecological, and historical conditions. The concept of water value positionality is introduced to describe the dynamic ensemble of meanings forged from cooperation and competition in the allocation, use, and conservation of water. Positionality helps us to understand water conflicts as individuals and groups struggling to legitimise their valuation of water. The explanatory function of positionality is demonstrated with an empirical case study in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro. Hegemonic positionality depicts water as an economic resource required for regional development and urban growth. This has been increasingly challenged by sectors of the state apparatus who call for the monetary valuation of water. Beyond these two perspectives, there exists a vast range of water values articulated by the local communities in their struggle for survival and political affirmation. The conclusion is that, in the process of constantly revaluing water, there are temporary 'positions of value' that last and change with sociocultural and politicoecological experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-888
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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