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Man and Water

Man and Water: The Social Sciences in Management of Water Resources

L. Douglas James Editor
Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 266
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  • Book Info
    Man and Water
    Book Description:

    Modern man is beginning, painfully, to learn that he can continue to enjoy basic resources like water only through careful planning and control. This book indicates what social scientists have contributed in the past and seeks to encourage their future participation in this critical area.

    The study first describes the background of water use planning and defines the specific problems of control. Then five social scientists, representing the fields of anthropology, economics, geography, political science, and sociology, review the contributions their disciplines have made and discuss the problems they can do most toward solving. Concluding chapters offer additional commentary and provide an overall evaluation of the present situation in water resource management and suggestions for more meaningful participation by social scientists.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6344-4
    Subjects: Technology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. 1 The Challenge to the Social Sciences
    (pp. 1-33)
    L. Douglas James

    From the dawn of history, people have felt a sense of helplessness as they observed the ravages of a flash flood or the slow, quiet death of prolonged drought. Some have been motivated by such experiences to try to do something, but very few have been able to use information gained from their observations to implement change. Many ideas failed (dry wells, breached levees, saline fields, and others), but some succeeded. Those who were successful were better able to withstand subsequent storms or droughts.

    Thus through a series of failures and successes, people have gained an understanding of nature. They...

  4. 2 Anthropological Contributions to the Cultural Ecology and Management of Water Resources
    (pp. 34-81)
    John W. Bennett

    On the whole, anthropologists have studied water resources as a by-product of their research on cultural history and human subsistence, and not as a substantive topic in its own right.¹ In surveying this literature, we have tried to feature those types of information most commonly occurring, and to suggest some unifying themes from the field of cultural ecology. The subjects to be treated in this essay are as follows: 1) water resource development in prehistoric cultures, particularly the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and Middle America; 2) the theoretical concept of “hydraulic society” or “irrigation civilization”; 3) the ecological...

  5. 3 Economics and Economists in Water Resources Development
    (pp. 82-101)
    Stephen C. Smith

    What have economists contributed to water resources development? Which water development problems might move toward solution with the assistance of economists? What are the professional incentives and rewards for increased involvement of economists in water-related research?

    Important questions have been asked the participants of the symposium. Issues and concepts are exposed which are not frequently probed. At the heart of the questions is the use of the termwater resources development.This concept has been a frequent frame of reference and it has been in common parlance among “water circles” for over three-quarters of a century.¹ Too often their attitude...

  6. 4 Role of Geography in Water Resources Management
    (pp. 102-121)
    Gilbert F. White

    If, as many of us think likely, the mode of planning water resources use is in a state of major flux, it is important to recognize the directions of those trends before assessing the contributions of academic disciplines to water management. To my mind, at least three main changes are in process in public activities dealing with water resources. First, emphasis upon the canvass of alternative aims and methods of managing water is increasing. Second, the attention given to direct use of scientific and technological research as a tool in water management is growing. Third, basic attitudes of man toward...

  7. 5 Toward a Political Science of Water Resources Decisions
    (pp. 122-163)
    Henry C. Hart

    What is the current state of the political analysis of American dealings with water? The quantity of work is mounting rapidly after a slump in the 1960s. The influence of political analysis upon decisions is still weak, notably weaker than in the 1950s. Its influence upon political science, too, is weaker than it was in the 1950s. Is the currently renewed activity of political scientists likely to attain both kinds of influence, or either? Assuming that the answer depends at least partly upon whether the new modes of analysis are converging toward some ordering (or perhaps rival orderings) of knowledge...

  8. 6 Recent Sociological Contributions to Water Resources Management and Development
    (pp. 164-199)
    Sue Johnson

    The focus of what people want from resources management has in recent years shifted away from the physical performance that engineers have been trained to provide. A new emphasis on social and environmental values has introduced an interdisciplinary flavor into the water planning efforts in the federal agencies. Water resources research is beginning to respond in the types of studies underway, if not in their total number.

    Economists, once specializing in better techniques for benefit-cost analysis, are now seeking more complete statements regarding the contributions of water resource development to social welfare. Sociologists and economists have studied institutional aspects of...

  9. 7 Reviews and Observations
    (pp. 200-239)
    L. Douglas James

    This book began with a challenge to the social sciences. Many social choices are made in almost complete ignorance of their consequences, and the social sciences possess an expertise that can make it possible for decisions to be based on better information. By using their expertise, social scientists can increase the probability that the choices made, by individuals or by society as a whole, will be in mankind’s best interest in the long run.

    Some of the most important social choices are those that influence or direct the development and adoption of innovative technology. The technology used in this book...

  10. 8 Recommendations from a Water Resources Planning Viewpoint
    (pp. 240-246)
    L. Douglas James

    Both thoughtful social scientists and people knowledgeable in the practical problems of water resources management recognize the importance of incorporating the expertise of the social sciences in formulating policies to meet long-term human needs. Each of a group of leading social scientists has in chapters two through six discussed the potential contribution his discipline can make and has provided constructive suggestions for its involvement. Each of a group of people knowledgeable in practical management problems has in chapter seven assessed the papers and provided supplemental constructive suggestions, and the editor has supplemented these suggestions with his own observations. The purpose...

  11. 9 Epilogue: Recommendations from a Social Science Viewpoint
    (pp. 247-255)
    Thomas Maher

    The preceding pages contain an almost bewildering variety of approaches, results, and insights into the social dimensions of water development. Embedded both explicitly and implicitly in this broad overview, however, are a number of key issues which provide foci for further thinking about the role of the social sciences in water development.

    The issue which seems most crucial involves the manner in which knowledge gained through social research comes to be applied by policy makers and practitioners. Even as the contributors to this volume provide much insight into the social consequences of water management, one might legitimately ask how much...

    (pp. 256-258)