Kurzexposé zur Promotion von Madelaine Moore
Common Ground? Exploring struggles over water through the lens of Social Reproduction Theory
My project explores contemporary struggles over water through the lens of social reproduction theory (SRT). I propose that social movements, as moments of collective contestation, provide an important entry and vantage point to the study of our current conjuncture of neoliberal capitalism. Broadly speaking, current critical studies of the (post)-crisis world tend to be either top-down studies on hegemony exploring how capitalism survived, ignoring the numerous social movement that occurred, or they fall into social movement studies and tend to lack a systematic theory of capitalist relations (there are obviously some exceptions). To fill these gaps and bring these two schools of thought into coversation I outline how a theoretical framework based on social reproduction feminism and a claim of internal relations can situate such struggles as an entry point to unpacking our current conjuncture.
I argue that there are certain tendencies that neoliberal capitalist relations – especially post crisis – have sharpened such as the contradiction between social reproduction and accumulation strategies, the exhaustion of the environment and political (or legitimation) crises. Social movements that are centred on water tend to capture these dynamics, with water being both a crucial input to production and space of potential accumulation but also central to life itself. Many of these movements have been successful and/or mobilised people in novel and expressive ways. This, I want to suggest, is because in contestation over water more than its mere use is at stake. At issue is the question of how we are to survive, or, more specifically, who should survive under conditions of neoliberal capital, as well as questions about democratic decision-making, community control and the legitimate use of scarce resources. I suggest that the recent struggles over water are paradigmatic of our contemporary conjuncture and stuyding them can add to our understanding of the broader social whole. However, to fully capture this relationship necessitates an analytical framework that highlights the relations between things rather than separates them from one another. SRT, via it’s claims of internal relations, and a non-additive social whole, demands a different way of studying social movements – placing it in relation to, and studying it through, the whole and the whole through it. The case of the Irish Water Charges Protests and the Anti-Fracking movement in Australia are used as case studies.