Journal article Open Access
The aim of this article is inviting the reader to debate theoretical-methodological contributions for research on public policies, in general, and especially water and sanitation policies. The article presents a synthesis of the main empirical findings of a doctoral dissertation that brings together contributions for the explanation of the genesis and development of these policies, from a comprehensive and relational perspective of the socio-political and economic dimensions. The general objective is to transcend the hegemonic academic literature that places emphasis on the techno-bureaucratic and physical aspects of management, seeking to analyse urban water and sanitation policies as a process and an instrument of social struggle within the context of a capitalist social order grounded on the production and reproduction of social inequality. The article proposes to discuss the reification of theoretical-methodological categories applied in the standard literature and address the interaction and indissoluble links between the different dimensions structuring urban policies. The empirical focus is centred on the situation of water and sanitation services in Mar del Plata, an intermediate city in Argentina. The work covers a period ranging from the genesis of National Sanitary Works (OSN) in 1912, through the municipalization of the local services in 1984 (after a long process of social and political struggles in a context of generalized and aggressive privatization processes in the country), until the failed attempt to privatize the local utility in the mid-1990s.