Elinor Ostrom, the Commons, and Anti-Capitalism

A helpful introduction to Elinor Ostrom's writings on the commons is found in a comment by Derek Wall at STIR, a site focused on “Co-ops. Community. Commons.”:  http://www.stirtoaction.com/elinor-ostrom-and-the-commons.  Ostrom is the late economist who, with her husband Vincent at Indiana University, won international recognition for her work on understanding cooperative solutions to issues around sharing and sustaining the commons.  Many of the Ostroms’ writings are themselves in the public domain – the report by Derek Wall gives the address.

A couple short quotes convey the focus and importance of Ostrom’s studies: 

“She sought an economics that moved beyond the market and the state, advocated a practical form of political ecology, looked at how commons could work for the community, and also showed the importance of careful institutional design in social change. She also challenged models of ‘rational economic man and woman’ and was an advocate for women, minorities, indigenous people and peasants.”

“In particular, she studied the commons to show that collective communal ownership was possible in many circumstances. Using a huge array of techniques to study common pool resource management, above all, she studied successful and failed commons with a historically based case study technique, building up a list of eight design features of sustainable commons.”

Indiana University at Bloomington sponsors The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Analysis, including an upcoming workshop; learn more at http://www.indiana.edu/~workshop.

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