Riding the waves of discomforts: Reflecting on the dialogue of hydrologists with society - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Hydrology Year : 2023

Riding the waves of discomforts: Reflecting on the dialogue of hydrologists with society


Although there is a deep historical relationship between hydrology and society, the relationship has considerably evolved in the last three decades. Hydrologists, in particular those involved in designing of decision-support tools, are experiencing a widening gap between an academic discipline which has progressively moved away from field-based applied natural science to computational hydrology, and the multiplication of stakeholders involved in the water-related issues addressed by research. The challenge for hydrology is now to negotiate this shift and to rethink its engagement in society. This paper provides a description of a planned process designed to improve hydrology-society interactions and to foster reflexivity in socio-hydrology. Based on an interdisciplinary reflexive process undertaken in Tunisia from 2016 to 2020, we identified three types of discomforts in the dialogue with society, inviting scientists to lucidly engage with these discomforts. We formulated four key reflexive propositions to achieve a better alignment of scientific stance, research practices and discourse. The first proposition concerns the need to explain more clearly the value systems scientists engage in and with society. The second concerns the need to position hydrology in society and not outside it, by reconsidering the functions that research fulfils in society. The third is an invitation to redefine the perimeter of the research interlocutors and the way to reach them. The fourth is to revisit scientific practices to build on the strengths of the dialogue between field-based natural science and computational hydrology. The paper concludes that adopting a reflexive posture towards these four dimensions of the dialogue between hydrology and society is an effective way to overcome discomforts and to refocus research stance, practices and discourse. It is a way to renew hydrology's place in society and to contribute to the current thinking in socio-hydrology initiated by hydrologists.
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Dates and versions

hal-04295958 , version 1 (20-11-2023)



Jeanne Riaux, Marcel Kuper, Sylvain Massuel, Insaf Mekki. Riding the waves of discomforts: Reflecting on the dialogue of hydrologists with society. Journal of Hydrology, 2023, 626, pp.130189. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2023.130189⟩. ⟨hal-04295958⟩
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