Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Lyn Macgregor


bottled water, commodification, consumerism, dependency theory, environmental justice, globalization


University of Montana


Despite the availability of affordable, clean water from taps in our homes, increasing numbers of people are willing to pay for the convenience of portable water, and to consume bottled water imported from an exotic location, such as Fiji. Consequently, FIJI Water, an American-owned multinational corporation, now constitutes approximately 29 percent of Fiji’s domestic exports. An important question that no one has asked to date is how do stakeholders in Fiji make sense of the rapidly growing bottled water industry? Examining how water is changing from a natural entitlement to a commodity throughout the world, and exploring how this is affecting stakeholders in Fiji in particular, will help in understanding what sort of impacts commodification of a natural resource on a worldwide scale has on a community level. Using data collected through interviews and observations in Fiji, this qualitative research project examines discourses that residents of Fijian communities in close proximity to the bottled water plant and representatives of the FIJI Water Company use to make sense of the global bottled water market and how these perceptions relate to larger questions about globalization, consumerism, inequality, and justice. But what happens if the demand for bottled water dries up? This thesis examines the dependency that Fiji is developing with the bottled water industry and analyzes the situation using an environmental justice framework. I argue that although the bottled water industry may be beneficial in the short-term for some Fijian stakeholders because of the jobs it provides and the donations the company makes to local communities, the environmental, economic, social, and cultural impacts of the industry may be detrimental to Fiji in the future.



© Copyright 2009 Jessica Dawn Ulrich