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Can water systems foster commoning practices? Analysing leverages for self-organization in urban water commons as social-ecological systems

Perrotti, D., Hyde, K. and Peña, D. O. (2020) Can water systems foster commoning practices? Analysing leverages for self-organization in urban water commons as social-ecological systems. Sustainability Science, 15 (3). pp. 781-795. ISSN 1862-4065

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s11625-020-00782-1


Research into urban commons has gained momentum in recent years. This article concentrates on the concept and analysis of urban water commons as socialecological systems, which receive a less prominent focus in the literature than other commoning practices. In the light of the distinctive social and ecological values of water for both ecosystem health and human wellbeing and sociability, we argue that the presence of water systems can foster stakeholder engagement and leverage selforganization in urban commons. We test our hypothesis in a dynamically-evolving urban water common: the recently restored Geoffrey Jellicoe’s Water Gardens in Hemel Hempstead, England. We apply Elinor Ostrom’s multilevel diagnostic tool, the “Social-Ecological System framework”, to analyse the characteristics of the Gardens water system and their impact on the self-organizing process undertaken by the local community. Our application is supported by collection of primary and secondary data, including Jellicoe’s design archived evidence, field observation data, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, as well as data mining from social media (topic modelling of Facebook posts, review of Facebook user profiles, and Twitter mentionnetwork analysis). Through our results, we identify a broad spectrum of characteristics of the Gardens urban water common that can catalyze the local self-organization dynamics. These include the leadership position of a specific non-governmental actor group with knowledge and expertise on water ecosystems; active engagement of the local population across age groups in recreational activities on the water; communitybuilding through expertise and knowledge sharing on the peculiar natural and infrastructural components of the Gardens water systems; and, finally, continued online networking and social media communication among different stakeholder groups on water-related activities.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Architecture
Science > School of the Built Environment > Urban Living group
Science > School of the Built Environment > Energy and Environmental Engineering group
ID Code:85804


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