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Keywords:

  • water organization;
  • sociology of water resources;
  • interdisciplinary collaboration;
  • water policy;
  • common property resource;
  • social and political

ABSTRACT: Water policy problems are wicked, not in an ethically deplorable sense, but in the sense that they present us with especially difficult challenges of becoming more effective in our interdisciplinary collaboration, of integrating two very different types of knowledge, of working across several socio-political units of analysis simultaneously, and of better organizing water as a common property resource. Sociology, as a discipline, does not have a particularly rich history of successful interdisciplinary collaboration on water resources research and teaching, but it potentially has a most useful contribution to make by focusing on the analysis of local common property resource organizations that operate in the interface between individual resource users and State-Federal entities. These organizations (e.g., water user associations, mutual companies, irrigation districts, acequias, conservancy districts) have been the orphans of water policy discourse but their operations are critical to undertaking more effective 21st century social analysis, research work, and action programs. Sociologists who work to better comprehend the operations of, and constraints upon, these organizations build a sociology that can better collaborate with other water-related disciplines in addressing the challenges posed by the wickedness of our water problems.