Research Topic

Innovating a New Knowledge Base for Water Justice Studies: Hydrosocial, Sociohydrology, and Beyond

About this Research Topic

This Research Topic is a part of the Delft 2021: 1st Sociohydrology Conference series. To view the other sessions please follow the links below:


The field of sociohydrology seeks to account for the social in hydrological processes. Such approaches tend to insert social variables and indicators in flood and drought prediction models in order to support and improve water management. Research tends to be anchored in the ontological separation of nature-society with nature as the 'anchor' of truth claims. The preference is for larger datasets and to position knowers as outside of (and independent from) what they study. On the other hand, the field of hydrosocial studies set out to expose politics and power in watery interventions, premised on the entanglements and co-constitution of society and nature, leading to a different epistemological stance. Hydrosocial research tends to prioritize qualitative studies, with the researcher-knower as situated. Both fields set out to bridge divides between the social and natural sciences in water-related issues, but remain largely within their own epistemological, ontological, methodological, and axiological comfort zones.

It is clear that natural and social scientists are creating intellectual innovations that are challenging existing water paradigms; however, deep intellectual barriers persist. To advance equity and justice in water system data collection, modeling, and analysis, thinking beyond the epistemological, ontological, methodological, axiological, technological, and psychological differences across the natural and social sciences is key to contribute to eliminating these barriers.

The aim of this Research Topic is to cover new developments in the wide spectrum of sociohydrology and hydrosocial co-practice for more just, equitable, and resilient water systems. We invite modelers to examine the analytical potential of their work; we also invite social scientists to consider the value of their work to develop plausible future scenarios, as well as engage in interdisciplinary collaborations. We are especially interested in case studies of water justice collaborations that bridge transdisciplinary gaps.

This Research Topic is concerned with how sociohydrology studies can capture sociohistorical contexts to better recognize power relations and how hydrosocial research can advance actionable insights and tools that are useful to water managers and decisionmakers.

Some research questions might include the following:
• Exchanges across natural and social approaches to hydro-spaces and socio-ecological systems.
• How and why (or why not?) model water (in)justice, power, positionality, perspectives, vulnerability, culture and spiritual dimensions of water?
• Applications of social theory to hydrological modeling (e.g., water accounting, upstream/downstream fluxes).
• What is the role of scholar-activists in water justice and sociohydrology work?.
• Political ecology of future waterscapes: What do analyses of the past tell us about the future?
• How can socio-hydrologists and hydrosocial scholars integrate frameworks that address multispecies intersectionality and post-humanist water sustainability?

About Delft 2021: 1st Sociohydrology Conference
Sociohydrology has seen spectacular growth since its inception seven years ago. Until now, it has been difficult to bring the entire community together, including especially social scientists, water managers and stakeholders under one umbrella. In view of the urgency of the societal challenges and the need for a unified, holistic and inclusive approach to address these grand challenges, there is an urgent need for a larger, international conference. Delft 2021: Advancing Sociohydrology Conference, the first of its kind, will provide the necessary visibility and wider scope to attract a cross-section of water scientists and stakeholders.


Keywords: sociohydrology, hydrosocial, equity, justice, transdisciplinarity, water justice, upstream vs. downstream, vulnerable communities, cultural and spiritual dimensions, future generations, Political ecology, socio-ecological systems


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

This Research Topic is a part of the Delft 2021: 1st Sociohydrology Conference series. To view the other sessions please follow the links below:


The field of sociohydrology seeks to account for the social in hydrological processes. Such approaches tend to insert social variables and indicators in flood and drought prediction models in order to support and improve water management. Research tends to be anchored in the ontological separation of nature-society with nature as the 'anchor' of truth claims. The preference is for larger datasets and to position knowers as outside of (and independent from) what they study. On the other hand, the field of hydrosocial studies set out to expose politics and power in watery interventions, premised on the entanglements and co-constitution of society and nature, leading to a different epistemological stance. Hydrosocial research tends to prioritize qualitative studies, with the researcher-knower as situated. Both fields set out to bridge divides between the social and natural sciences in water-related issues, but remain largely within their own epistemological, ontological, methodological, and axiological comfort zones.

It is clear that natural and social scientists are creating intellectual innovations that are challenging existing water paradigms; however, deep intellectual barriers persist. To advance equity and justice in water system data collection, modeling, and analysis, thinking beyond the epistemological, ontological, methodological, axiological, technological, and psychological differences across the natural and social sciences is key to contribute to eliminating these barriers.

The aim of this Research Topic is to cover new developments in the wide spectrum of sociohydrology and hydrosocial co-practice for more just, equitable, and resilient water systems. We invite modelers to examine the analytical potential of their work; we also invite social scientists to consider the value of their work to develop plausible future scenarios, as well as engage in interdisciplinary collaborations. We are especially interested in case studies of water justice collaborations that bridge transdisciplinary gaps.

This Research Topic is concerned with how sociohydrology studies can capture sociohistorical contexts to better recognize power relations and how hydrosocial research can advance actionable insights and tools that are useful to water managers and decisionmakers.

Some research questions might include the following:
• Exchanges across natural and social approaches to hydro-spaces and socio-ecological systems.
• How and why (or why not?) model water (in)justice, power, positionality, perspectives, vulnerability, culture and spiritual dimensions of water?
• Applications of social theory to hydrological modeling (e.g., water accounting, upstream/downstream fluxes).
• What is the role of scholar-activists in water justice and sociohydrology work?.
• Political ecology of future waterscapes: What do analyses of the past tell us about the future?
• How can socio-hydrologists and hydrosocial scholars integrate frameworks that address multispecies intersectionality and post-humanist water sustainability?

About Delft 2021: 1st Sociohydrology Conference
Sociohydrology has seen spectacular growth since its inception seven years ago. Until now, it has been difficult to bring the entire community together, including especially social scientists, water managers and stakeholders under one umbrella. In view of the urgency of the societal challenges and the need for a unified, holistic and inclusive approach to address these grand challenges, there is an urgent need for a larger, international conference. Delft 2021: Advancing Sociohydrology Conference, the first of its kind, will provide the necessary visibility and wider scope to attract a cross-section of water scientists and stakeholders.


Keywords: sociohydrology, hydrosocial, equity, justice, transdisciplinarity, water justice, upstream vs. downstream, vulnerable communities, cultural and spiritual dimensions, future generations, Political ecology, socio-ecological systems


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

19 December 2021 Abstract
25 July 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

19 December 2021 Abstract
25 July 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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