Hydrologic Habitus

Wells, Watering Practices, and Water Supply Infrastructure

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 State University of New York College at Cortland brock.ternes@cortland.edu
  • 2 University of Kansas bdonovan@ku.edu
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Abstract

Private water wells and municipal water supplies function as different systems of water provision, creating distinct—but understudied—patterns of water consumption. This article examines private well ownership to assess the relationships among conspicuous water consumption, cultural practices, and environmental structures. We surveyed well owners and non-well owners throughout Kansas, a state highly reliant on groundwater (n = 864). Borrowing insights from Bourdieu's analysis of cultural consumption, this research considers the relationships between demographic variables and watering routines. We provide evidence that well ownership is a significant predictor of conspicuous water usage, and suggest attention to individuals’ hydrologic habitus—a disposition toward water usage shaped by infrastructure, class, and pertinent social variables—facilitates a better understanding of well ownership, drought-time watering, and conspicuous water consumption.

Contributor Notes

Brock Ternes (PhD, University of Kansas, 2016) is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Sociology/Anthropology Department at the State University of New York College at Cortland, USA. Many of his academic plans investigate how water supplies shape environmental action and policies in semiarid climates, and he aspires to develop workable praxes for studying pro-environmental behaviors. His research and teaching interests include environmental sociology, environmental policy, the sociology of water usage, sociological theory, quantitative methods, and survey design. Email: brock.ternes@cortland.edu or via mail at SUNY Cortland, Sociology/Anthropology Department, P.O. Box 2000, Cortland, NY 13045, USA.

Brian Donovan (PhD, Northwestern University, 2001) is Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA. He is a historical sociologist with a focus on gender and culture. He is the author of White Slave Crusades: Race, Gender, and Anti-Vice Activism, 1877–1917 (2006) and Respectability on Trial: Sex Crime Trials in New York City, 1900–1920 (2016). Email: bdonovan@ku.edu

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