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Markus Wissen and Matthias Naumann

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A New Logic of Infrastructure Supply: The Commercialization of Water and the Transformation of Urban Governance in Germany

Privatization of public services is a global development, taking place under specific political, economic, and cultural conditions in different spaces. This article examines the privatization of water companies in East German municipalities facing shrinking processes (deindustrialization/de-economization, as well as the loss of population and suburbanization). Shrinking processes endanger the technical and financial capacities of water companies, and many local governments in East Germany see the only possible solution in a (partial) privatization of water supply and wastewater disposal systems. Because of their crucial importance for every area of social life, water and wastewater infrastructures have become a terrain in which a contested re-articulation between public and private takes place. Furthermore, they have become a means of uneven socio-spatial development. Drawing on the “splintering urbanism” approach, this article explores these dynamics and their implications with special reference to the city of Frankfurt/Oder, which is located on the Polish-German border.

shrinking processes, “splintering urbanism,” privatization of water, urban governance, Germany

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 33, No. 3 (2006): 20-37