1 Sep 2012

Au contraire, Monsieur Hardin!




Whether studying California groundwater basins, North Atlantic fisheries, African community forests, or Nepalese irrigation systems, scientific case studies frequently seem to answer:  Au contraire, Monsieur Hardin!  There may be situations where this model an be applied, but many groups can effectively manage and sustain common resources if they have suitable conditions, such as appropriate rules, good conflict-resolution mechanisms, and well-defined group boundaries (Hess and Ostrom 2011: 11)

Elinor Ostrom is best known for her work on common pool property resources better known as commons.  Even before the 1968 publication of Garrett Hardin's 'Tragedy of the Commons' paper in the journal Science, it was generally assumed by academic that collective management of a resource would lead to chaos.  Property was either private or state owned.  Commons was non property and as such open to all it would be abused and degraded.  Using the analytical tools from experiments to satellite surveys to participant observation Elinor Ostrom found that far from being a free for all, commons were often regulated and often regulated in a sustainable way.  Drawing on numerous case studies she published Governing the Commons in 1990.  This looked at why some commons succeed and others failed, using the IAD framework, to construct some hypothesis about the conditions that were best able to make commons work well.  Between 1990 and her death in 2012 she collaborated with other researchers using the wide variety of methods discussed in chapter three to find out more about the commons.  Her earliest research and indeed that of her husband Vincent Ostrom dealt with common pool resources.  Vincent looked at ranching which was managed communally in Oregon and they both studies water management in California.  However at this point they had not considered that they were studying something called the commons.

1 comment:

Ben Courtice said...

I think it past time I read some of Ostrom's work. Sounds like it ties in neatly with the discussion of "21st century socialism", co-operatives and so on that has been occurring.