The hegemony of integrated water resources management as a global water discourse

Farhad Mukhtarov, Aleh Cherp

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The early form of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) emerged in the USA in the 1900s in order to manage interactions between water, land, eco- and social systems. By the end of the last century, IWRM has become a globally prominent policy concept. We concern ourselves with three questions, namely, a) “why did IWRM become a globally popular concept”?; b) “how did IWRM become a globally popular concept”?; and c) “what are the effects of IWRM being a globally popular concept”? We argue that this popularity can be explained in term of a neo-Gramscian concept of hegemony and the three-dimensional model of power. The hegemony of IWRM relies on: a) providing material incentives to engage with IWRM; b) directing normative persuasion in order to create and diffuse the norms; and c) building up organizational hierarchies to support IWRM planning. Using water management in Kazakhstan as a case study, we demonstrate some of the risks associated with an uncritical embrace of IWRM which may stem from its global hegemony.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRiver Basin Management in the Twenty-First Century
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding People and Place
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781466579637
ISBN (Print)9781466579620
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Management

Free keywords

  • Fragmentation
  • Global water initiatives
  • Holistic management
  • IWRM
  • Kazakhstan
  • Neo-gramscian
  • Neoliberalism
  • Technocratic elites
  • Transnational actors
  • USA


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