A transdisciplinary account of water research

Tobias Krueger*, CM Maynard, Gemma Carr, Antje Bruns, Eva Nora Mueller, Stuart Lane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)
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Water research is introduced from the combined perspectives of natural and social science and cases of citizen and stakeholder coproduction of knowledge. Using the overarching notion of transdisciplinarity, we examine how interdisciplinary and participatory water research has taken place and could be developed further. It becomes apparent that water knowledge is produced widely within society, across certified disciplinary experts and noncertified expert stakeholders and citizens. However, understanding and management interventions may remain partial, or even conflicting, as much research across and between traditional disciplines has failed to integrate disciplinary paradigms due to philosophical, methodological, and communication barriers. We argue for more agonistic relationships that challenge both certified and noncertified knowledge productively. These should include examination of how water research itself embeds and is embedded in social context and performs political work. While case studies of the cultural and political economy of water knowledge exist, we need more empirical evidence on how exactly culture, politics, and economics have shaped this knowledge and how and at what junctures this could have turned out differently. We may thus channel the coproductionist critique productively to bring perspectives, alternative knowledges, and implications into water politics where they were not previously considered; in an attempt to counter potential lock‐in to particular water policies and technologies that may be inequitable, unsustainable, or unacceptable. While engaging explicitly with politics, transdisciplinary water research should remain attentive to closing down moments in the research process, such as framings, path‐dependencies, vested interests, researchers’ positionalities, power, and scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-389
Number of pages21
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary reviews, Water
Early online date14 Jan 2016
Publication statusPrint publication - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Water planning
  • Knowledge
  • Transdiciplinarity
  • Power
  • Scales
  • Framing


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