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Indispensable, yet Invisible: Drinking water management as a local political issue in Swedish municipalities

Journal article
Authors Anna Bendz
Åsa Boholm
Published in Local Government Studies
ISSN 0300-3930
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Global Studies
Department of Political Science
Language en
Subject categories Other Social Sciences


Local policy-makers' incentives to address an issue is conditioned by how they perceive public attention. Our study focuses on drinking water management at the municipal level in Sweden. Provisioning and management of drinking water is a responsibility of the local governments. Interviews with local politicians and public administrators in seven municipalities reveal that local policy-makers think that citizens view provisioning of drinking water as a taken for granted service, and also lack knowledge of and interest in drinking water issues. Public attention is further seen as a double-edged sword since engagement in water issues often is a result of problems with water provision. The findings are discussed from a theoretical perspective of the role of agenda-setting in public policy. It is argued that the view of policy-makers of citizens as unengaged negatively affects the incentives to bring drinking water to a prominent place on the local policy agenda.

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