2 Sep 2014

New book on the Ostroms



Paul Dragos Aligica's new book 'Institutional Diversity and Political Economy: The Ostroms and Beyond' (Oxford University Press), fascinates me.  It is full of ideas.  Stimulating unusual ideas.  So often I look at books and kind of think 'I know about this already', not this one.

However I would not recommend it as a first book on the Ostroms.  Vincent and Elinor were unusual thinkers and its a good idea to get a feel for where they were coming from before tackling this.

Paul looks at their themes such as diversity and shows how a new generation of scholars are extending them.

Nearly every paragraph contains interesting and very important themes.

Forget the 'state versus markets' debate, the starting point here is that there are a diversity of institutional forms, even states and markets and networks would be a gross simplification.

Thinking beyond the market and the state, is radical.

The normative, theoretical and empirical embrace of diversity instead of uniformity, is another challenge.

Above all, Paul shows how the Ostrom's sought to make institutional design democratic, that we can learn more about institutions work and change them.  Not a conservative acceptance nor the alternative of an opposed choice, but popular involvement in institution building, was an important theme of the Ostroms.

Commons can be managed by institutions created by commoners, and commoners don't always create tragedy....however while the Ostroms were known for their work on commons, their institutional political economy extend beyond them.

A very stimulating book indeed!  Will try and work through some chapters and blog about them.

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