ha rry c . b oy t e Elinor Ostrom's share of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics is cause for celebration among supporters of the commonwealth and democracy alike. While her work provides powerful conceptual resources for sustaining shared resources, it also points toward a democratizing politics that has large implications for overcoming the bitter divisions in today's political landscape and making significant changes in contemporary societies as well. The theory-building of Ostrom and others associated with the "Bloomington School," based at Indiana University, has considerably helped to counter widespread pessimism about the fate of the commons. Specifically, they refuted Garrett Hardin's famous 1968 article, "The Tragedy of the Commons," which summed up conventional wisdom that common resources are doomed. Hardin, defining the commons as a "free resource" open to all, predicted its inevitable ruin as each individual pursues his or her own self-interests.1 The Bloomington School, examining real-world cases of shared resources such as fisheries, forests, irrigation systems, and more recently the internet, discovered that several of Hardin's basic assumptions were simply mistaken: that the commons is by definition "open to all," rather than a managed collective resource; that little or no communication exists among users;
The Good Society – Penn State University Press
Published: Sep 28, 2011
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