Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1,500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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This chapter reviews some of the central ideas related to care and explores how care and care work is connected to water and water security. The first part engages with the conventional framing of care as a gendered and often hidden and undervalued set of practices. It then explores other ways in which care has been theorized, including the spatialities of care and the role of non-humans in caring assemblages. The chapter finishes an introduction to the idea of ‘ecologies of care’, put forward as a mechanism to visualize the pervasiveness of care and to bolster a care-centric way of living with climate change. The central argument of this chapter is that care is central to the management of water and the establishment of water security.

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This chapter explores efforts to access and provide safe, clean and secure drinking water. The cases and discussions detail specific experiences of care and how these are made visible and invisible through policy, media and practice. In much of this work around water security, the infrastructures of care are variably visible/invisible as well as present/absent and in various states of deterioration. The chapter starts with an overview of water distribution, highlighting the extensive work undertaken to live with and through water systems. The intent is to situate drinking water and concomitant infrastructures in our social and cultural histories. Subsequently, the chapter narrates two examples of the challenges associated with water distribution based in Flint, Michigan (United States) and Rajasthan (India). The intent of these examples is to highlight the social and cultural aspects of water distribution focusing on the role of care in these experiences and contexts.

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This chapter introduces the book’s approach and conceptual framework. It sets out some of the limitations of conventional climate change discourse and some of the ways in which stories and narratives that connect to human experience can motivate transformative action. Subsequently, the chapter reviews the context of climate change and the central data related to anthropocentric global warming. This is followed by an examination of the relationship between climate change and water across themes of floods and droughts, coastal change, drinking water, and conflict. The chapter also introduces the concepts of vulnerability and fragility and how these have been deployed to characterize climate risk. Lastly, it sets out the plan and structure of the book and subsequent chapters.

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This chapter summarizes and compares the cases and further develops the concept of ecological care. The chapter includes a brief introduction followed by a summary of the case examples and key themes. It then develops the central theoretical contribution joining together perspectives from urban studies, geography, water security studies and feminist theory. The intent is to build a foundation for future climate change adaptation. This starts with recognizing the potentially catastrophic consequences of global warming and the ways in which these impacts will be locally and unevenly experienced. The chapter argues for a shift in understanding of the practices which make up adaptation and wellbeing more generally. This is a shift that sees water security and human lives as always invested in ecologies of care.

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Water Security in the Global Context
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This book investigates and analyses places in Europe, North America and Asia that are facing the immense challenges associated with climate change adaptation. Presenting real-world cases in the contexts of coastal change, drinking water and the cryosphere, Michael Buser shows how the concept of care can be applied to water security and climate adaptation.

Exploring the everyday and often hidden ways in which water security is accomplished, the book demonstrates the pervasiveness and power of care to contribute to flourishing lives and communities in times of climate change.

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This chapter reviews the impacts of climate change on communities located in the cryosphere. It starts with a narrative of how global warming is impacting cultural practices and understandings of snow and ice. It then details the particular challenges facing the cryosphere, including impacts to ice sheets, alpine glaciers and the permafrost. Subsequently, cases in Shishmaref (Alaska, United States) and Ladakh (India) are presented to examine how communities are adapting to climate change in the cryosphere. The chapter concludes with a discussion of postcolonial perspectives on the environment and how these might connect to alternative views on sustainability and climate change adaptive practices.

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This chapter focuses on the challenges associated with coastal change. The first part reviews the relations and associated challenges between climate change and coastal processes. This section narrates the urgency around these issues and how coastal communities are starting to plan for uncertain futures. The chapter includes longer discussions of two cases. The first, Ban Khun Samut Chin, is located outside of Bangkok, Thailand and has experienced such extreme coastal erosion that some residents have relocated their homes three or four times over the past few decades. The second case draws attention to planning for the future of sea level rise in the village of Fairbourne, Wales. In this example, the threat of future inundation has led to plans to abandon the village. The chapter concludes with a reflection on coastal management and the challenges of planning for climate change in coastal zones.

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The book closes by discussing lessons for policy and research from the dramatic Portuguese experience. The chapter revisits two talks on energy transitions governance at the United Nations, in New York and Geneva. It juxtaposes these grand settings with two stark memories from fieldwork: weeks spent in an eco-community in 2017, and a conversation with two of Portugal’s earliest household rooftop solar adopters in 2023. The former memory includes a solar-powered kitchen helping to cook for 50 people daily in a rural social innovation setting with little government support. The latter discussion features the claim from experienced interlocutors that the future of solar in Portugal is primarily large-scale. With community energy initiatives mired in bureaucracy, tariffs during peak production hours are being hollowed out, with only bigger players with energy flexibility able to benefit by trading. This contrasts with the gathering of European delegates pushing for an efficient, decentralized, clean energy system. Here lies the challenge: accepting the empirically plausible reading that large solar wins the day makes it even more likely. The chapter probes whether a middling path is the pragmatic compromise. As the sun rises in Portugal, will a just solar energy transition dawn?

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The chapter addresses the highly political nature of the energy sector by explaining the dilemma confronting the Portuguese government in 2017. The Socialist Party-led coalition that came into power in 2015 (and was re-elected in 2019 and 2022) faced a quandary despite its pro-renewable energy stance, that poorly designed wind energy contracts had given renewables a bad name and subsidizing solar energy was deemed politically infeasible. The chapter explains how institutional restructuring, political gumption and an ambitious vision of energy transitions led to Portugal setting two world records through its solar energy auctions in 2019 and 2020. It emphasizes the importance of considering solar installations at multiple spatial scales, to enable a more equitable distribution of benefits, burdens and ownership. This narrative culminates in the July 2023 announcement by the Portuguese government to achieve 20.4 gigawatts of solar installed capacity by 2030, nearly similar to its total installed capacity for electricity in 2021. This leads to the central question of the book: will the sun rise to such great heights in Portugal, and in doing so will it take people along in just ways? The challenge is contextualized through comparison to broader global solar energy development trends.

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This chapter lays out the aims and scope of the book. It explains how an empirical scientist can study contemporary trends to offer deep insights into a societal context. Like all the book chapters, it begins with a vignette. This one is drawn from a National Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality roadshow meeting in Faro, the capital of Portugal’s Algarve region. It conveys a sense of the challenge of researching a complex sociotechnical sector such as energy in Portugal, and explains fieldwork techniques applied over seven years. A personal note evokes human interest to offer an overview of multi-sited, multi-scalar fieldwork. This orientates non-academic readers, and offers grounding for claims to academic readers, embedded in important details that introduce all readers to the sociocultural context. The chapter provides an overview of the variety of stakeholders engaged with to understand the challenge of solar energy transition in Portugal. It explains the choices made to unpack issues of relevance to urgency, justice and scalar aspects of Portugal’s solar energy transition – what kind of spatial patterning is unfolding, and with what sociopolitical implications for energy justice?

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