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Domesticating Infrastructure: Mumbai’s middle class housing and rainwater harvesting

BUTTON, CATHERINE,MYRENA (2014) Domesticating Infrastructure: Mumbai’s middle class housing and rainwater harvesting. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Housing is no longer merely a site of resource consumption, but also supplier of decentralised ‘green’ resources for Mumbai’s middle classes and rainwater harvesting is pivotal to this shift as the first major environmental intervention. This thesis aims to assess how Mumbai’s middle classes are responding to water shortage and environmental change through domestic rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting is mandatory in newly constructed buildings and retrofits are becoming increasingly popular as the municipality promotes water saving initiatives. The responsibility for securing water resources in Mumbai’s middle class households has thus been shifted onto the residents themselves at the same time as they strive to secure and improve their lifestyles.
This research draws on fieldwork in Mumbai from 2009 to 2011 to explore how rainwater harvesting is being governed, assembled and practiced by the rapidly growing but under-researched middle classes. A socio-technical framework is used to analyse the findings and this thesis draws three main conclusions: Firstly, housing is being repositioned as a water supplier, and thus a site for governing services, promoting middle class responses to shortage and allowing the municipality to roll back provision. Secondly, the domestication of water supplies through rainwater harvesting can accelerate the uptake of other environmental technologies within residential buildings by creating apertures in the socio-technical transition. Thirdly, rainwater harvesting facilitates the performance of middle class lifestyles by securing constant water supplies but servants can distance residents from resource use and influence uptake and effectiveness of these decentralised environmental services. Therefore, if these complexities are acknowledged, the domestication of water infrastructure through rainwater harvesting has the potential to open up Mumbai’s homes to become more sustainable.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Infrastructure; Housing; India; Mumbai; Environment; Governance; Water; Socio-technical; Urban; middle class; Rainwater harvesting
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 May 2014 12:13

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