Taking on Water: A Discourse Analysis of Drinking Water Policy and Practices at the University of Victoria




Brulotte, Jayna

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In recent years, universities, municipalities, and other public and private organizations throughout Canada have banned the sale of bottled water from their facilities. To explore how such bans are linguistically and textually framed, proposed, and debated, this thesis analyzes drinking water policy and practice at the University of Victoria. Using Maarten Hajer’s approach to discourse analysis, discourses, story-lines, and discourse coalitions are identified. Through interviews with key players as well as textual analysis, I identify several discourses being mobilized to discuss drinking water at the University of Victoria, including that drinking water is an environmental issue, a public resource, a human right, a commodity, a health issue, and a revenue issue. The key discourse coalition working to define the issue of drinking water is a student coalition comprising the University of Victoria Sustainability Project and the University of Victoria Students’ Society. This coalition is promoting the argument that the sale of bottled water should be banned on campus.



bottled water, universities, discourse analysis, Hajer, human rights