The US politics of water pollution policy: Urban growth, ecological modernization, and the vending of technology

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3 Scopus citations


The current US political emphasis on technology to address such environmental bads as water pollution is the result of an autonomous society wide discourse, known as ecological modernization. The 19th century saw the city's expanding industrial base and population despoil the fresh water necessary for economic and political stability, thus triggering economic/political crises. Government-mandated technological controls affect the output of water pollution, but they do not regulate the rates of local growth. This allows local growth coalitions to freely promote and embrace increasing levels of local investment growth, thereby accruing greater wealth and profitability. Approaches that rely on technology to abate pollution are compatible with local economic activity and growth in two important ways. First, such approaches do not seek to curb local economic activity or growth to affect lower levels of pollution. This would be the most assured means to reduce pollution. Second, reliance on technology to abate pollution is politically reassuring to industrial firms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-121
Number of pages17
JournalCapitalism, Nature, Socialism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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