Daniel Jaffee

Author photo

Daniel Jaffee is an environmental and rural sociologist and Professor of Sociology at Portland State University. 

His research examines conflicts over water privatization and commodification; the social, environmental, and economic impacts of bottled and packaged water; and social movements around bottled water and water justice in both the global North and South.

He also studies the international fair trade movement and system, examining the benefits and limitations of participation in fair trade markets for small-scale commodity producers, as well as  the contested politics of fair trade and agrifood certification, and social movements around food and agriculture.

His first book, Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival, received the C. Wright Mills Book Award.

He received his Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Book cover: Unbottled: The Fight Against Bottled Water and for Water Justice, by Daniel Jaffee

Fall 2023      University of California Press

Winner of 2024 Outstanding Publication Award,                 Environmental Sociology Section, American Sociological Association

An exploration of bottled water's impact on social justice and sustainability, and how diverse movements are fighting back.

In just four decades, bottled water has transformed from a luxury niche item into a ubiquitous consumer product, representing a $300 billion market dominated by global corporations. It sits at the convergence of a mounting ecological crisis of single-use plastic waste and climate change, a social crisis of affordable access to safe drinking water, and a struggle over the fate of public water systems. Unbottled examines the vibrant movements that have emerged to question the need for bottled water and challenge its growth in North America and worldwide.

Drawing on extensive interviews with activists, residents, public officials, bottling firm representatives, and other participants in controversies ranging from bottled water's role in unsafe tap water crises to groundwater extraction for bottling in rural communities, the book asks what this commodity's meteoric growth means for social inequality, sustainability, and the human right to water. Unbottled profiles campaigns to reclaim the tap and addresses the challenges of ending dependence on packaged water in places where safe water is not widely accessible. Clear and compelling, it assesses the prospects for the movements fighting plastic water and working to ensure water justice for all.

Order the Book:


"Jaffee emphasizes the resistance against bottled water’s hegemony, not just its negative effects, leaving the reader astonished but still hopeful. . . . For those wanting to fight for climate and water justice, this book is a must-read."

     --The Progressive Magazine

"In Unbottled, Daniel Jaffee offers a superbly researched argument that our growing dependence on bottled water is not only creating major environmental crises but also weakening the whole notion of public water services—thereby undermining the human right to water. This book, with its call to support grassroots water justice movements, is a major addition to a growing body of work by those who fight for a water-secure future." 

     —Maude Barlow, water justice activist and author

"Unbottled is a remarkable book, one that both sociologists and students of social movements will find useful and surprisingly enjoyable. After describing an ongoing corporate campaign that has persuaded consumers around the world to rely on water from plastic bottles, Jaffee traces how activists in very different communities have mobilized to protect their water sources, exploring how they framed issues, raised public awareness, and targeted companies and public regulators. Jaffee's ...insights will help readers understand both the broad structural dynamics shaping our world and the complicated local dynamics that play out in social movement campaigns." 

     —Gay Seidman, Martindale Bascom Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Jaffee has a knack for recognizing the deeper economic, social, and political consequences of the everyday decisions that most of us take for granted... He shows us the environmental cost of plastic water, as well as the societal cost of neglecting—and sometimes privatizing—our public water systems. And, as he always has, Jaffee gives us hope for the future by examining movements that recognize water as a necessity rather than a commodity. This is an essential book for everyone who seeks to reclaim the commons and build a just and equitable society." 

     —John Nichols, The Nation

"Unbottled will be required reading for anyone wanting to get the big picture on why we have been inundated with plastic containers selling something readily available and how we might get out of this mess."

     —Social Forces