Changing water use practices of the urban middle class in India

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter examines changing practices of domestic water use of a less-studied social and economic cohort, the urban middle-classes in India. This consumer class is endeavouring to find new ways of being global citizens and, in the process, changing their perceptions of water and water use practices. The chapter reports a study of these changing perceptions and practices of water use in middle-class, urban households in Kolkata to offer a glimpse into the microscopic scale of everyday water. It shows that middle-class households reinvent individual and household consumption by accessing hitherto out-of-reach resources and by consuming resources in new ways, involving an increasing commodification of water, whose perceived purity depends upon purchasing power. The implications of this research are that changing perceptions of purity and potability commodify water and may even increase its consumption by the middle-classes in urban India, implying that the supply of water to poorer households – which lack voice, political and economic power, and are unable to step up to the changing values of water – would decrease. Therefore, state water providers need to recognize that values of water are changing due to changing perceptions and leading to changing use.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIndia's Water Futures: Emergent Ideas and Pathways
    Editors K. J. Joy, S. Janakarajan
    Place of PublicationLondon
    Edition1st Edition
    ISBN (Print)9780429752261
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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