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WIREs Water
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Modern water and its discontents: a history of hydrosocial renewal

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Abstract Water planning and management in the 20th century were characterized by a particular way of understanding and relating to water that may be described in terms of ‘modern water’. Essentially, modern water is a way of knowing, accounting for, and representing water apart from its social context. Modern water replaced a wealth of different waters whose essence was defined by the social circumstances in which they occurred, rather than by the compound of oxygen and hydrogen to which all waters may be reduced. This paper traces the history of modern water and describes its current retreat in the face of circumstances that call for the resocialization of waters. Several examples of this resocialization are given, including a new way of representing hydrosocial relations known as the ‘hydrosocial cycle’, the campaign for the human right to water and emerging practices in water engineering and water management. WIREs Water 2014, 1:111–120. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1009 This article is categorized under: Human Water > Rights to Water Human Water > Water Governance Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented
The hydrologic cycle (National Atlas of the United States).
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The hydrosocial cycle. Source: Linton and Budds
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‘The hydrologic cycle as it occurs today. Water flows to money!’ (Source: from Kate Ely, Available at: http://aquadoc.typepad.com/waterwired/2008/12/postmodern‐hydrologic‐cycle.html. Accessed April 22, 2013)
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The global water system. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2004 American Geophysical Union)
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Precipitation and the hydrologic cycle. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 1934 Natural Resources Board)
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Horton's hydrologic cycle. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 1931 American Geophysical Union)
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Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented

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