Living with “abnormal” drought in rain-soaked Taiwan: Analysis of water consumption practices and discourses
Keywords:drought, water consumption, practise theory, discourse analysis, sustainability
In this study, I investigated how media represents drought as a slow-onset hazard and how the general public interprets drought and re-structures their water consumption practices when confronting a severe drought event in Taiwan. Empirical data were collected from the periods of drought in Taiwan between 2014 to 2015, including 1,760 news reports, 6,030 online discussion threads, and ethnographic data from 41 participants for analysis. Discourse analysis suggests that considerable discrepancy exists between media, state and general public understanding of droughts. Media and state discourses emphasise the abnormality of drought and lexically modify the hazard with metaphorical expressions of war in order to rationalise the government’s intervention and governance of water supply. The general public primarily articulate drought to the political ecology of unequal water allocation, management, and consumption. The investigation of water consumption practices suggested that a coherent and painless method of achieving sustainable water consumption does not exist. Water consumption practices are fabricated within the sensory experience of the local hydro-environment from social actors, the relationship between human and nonhuman technological devices, and domestic dynamics as well as political and economic considerations of water. Therefore, in this paper, I argue that drought should be redefined as an admixture hazard and be normalised in everyday life in regions that face uncertain meteorological changes to establish a more sustainable water culture.