Scarcity is considered a ubiquitous feature of the human condition. It underpins much of modern economics and is widely used as an explanation for social organisation, social conflict and the resource crunch confronting humanity´s survival on the planet. It is made out to be an all-pervasive fact of our lives - be it of housing, food, water or oil. But has the conception of scarcity been politicised, naturalised, and universalised in academic and policy debates? Has over-hasty recourse to scarcity evoked a standard set of market, institutional and technological solutions which have blocked out political contestations, overlooking access as a legitimate focus for academic debates as well as policies and interventions?
Theoretical and empirical chapters by leading academics and scholar-activists grapple with these issues by questioning scarcity´s taken-for-granted nature. They examine scarcity debates across three of the most important resources - food, water and energy - and their implications for theory, institutional arrangements, policy responses and innovation systems.