Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology and Anthropology

Department name when degree awarded


Committee Chair(s)

Peggy Petrzelka


Peggy Petrzelka


E. Helen Berry


Christy M. Glass


Claudia Radel


Jennifer E. Givens


The negative impacts of market on environment after 1970s and environmental movements that tried to stop market have been studied in different research projects. However, focusing on different political economic systems are need more studies to show differences and similarities of this issue in different societies.

This dissertation contributes to this body of research through understanding of two different environmental movements that have been formed against water transfer projects in two different political economies. More specifically, comparative study provides an opportunity to understand how marketization of water and resistance of environmental movements have been formed in two different political economic systems, a capitalist democracy (the U.S.) and a centralized statist system (Iran). My findings help clarify the nature of local resistances around water issues and reveal the similarities and differences that both communities have experienced with regard to these proposed projects. In addition, this research illuminates the public’s concerns regarding the impacts of these projects on local communities in terms of environmental degradation and social problems resulting from the projects. This understanding will help to illuminate the contours of the social, political, and economic contexts of environmental movements surrounding water issues in these cases. I conducted 47 interviews (21 for the U.S. case and 26 for the Iranian Case), with key informants who were involved either in development of the water project or in resistance to the project. I also analyzed different documents for both projects.

In the first paper, I show the perception of environmental movements in two case studies on water transfer projects. I argue how the movements have understood water projects as new water markets. The role of the States in two different political economies are so important regarding using of different means and mechanism to form new water markets through water transfer projects. In the second paper, I argue about reasons of forming environmental movements and illustrate how environmental opposition movements look like in these two different political economic systems. I show different means and mechanism that environmental movements used in different societies and argue the reasons these similarities and difference. In the last paper, I show how this Iranian environmental movement, as a social movement, cannot be entirely explained through the dominant western narrative of social movement stages and we need to attention to different political economies for developing of narrative of social movement’s stages.



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