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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
October 2021
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Book description

The commons theory, first articulated by Elinor Ostrom, is increasingly used as a framework to understand and rethink the management and governance of many kinds of shared resources. These resources can include natural and digital properties, cultural goods, knowledge and intellectual property, and housing and urban infrastructure, among many others. In a world of increasing scarcity and demand - from individuals, states, and markets - it is imperative to understand how best to induce cooperation among users of these resources in ways that advance sustainability, affordability, equity, and justice. This volume reflects this multifaceted and multidisciplinary field from a variety of perspectives, offering new applications and extensions of the commons theory, which is as diverse as the scholars who study it and is still developing in exciting ways.


‘This Handbook is the most complete and inspiring guide to the origins of and innovations in commons research, addressing the complexity and range of the commons today – beyond physical resources, to include public space, technology, the role of the commons in the economy, and the implications for public policy.’

Marguerite Mendell - Director, Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, Concordia University

‘The Cambridge Handbook of Commons Research Innovation comes at a most opportune moment, bringing together some of the most prominent contemporary thinkers and scholars on the commons. The Handbook synthesizes innovative research on the commons and collective action needed to address 21st-century crises of sustainability.’

Harini Nagendra - Professor of Sustainability, Azim Premji University

‘The Cambridge Handbook of Commons Research Innovation, edited by Sheila R. Foster and Chrystie F. Swiney, is an incredibly well-put-together and thought-out collection of essays on commons research that stands out because it takes a forward-thinking approach from the very beginning. As we move forward with our understanding of commons research, the Handbook offers a broad-ranging, wide-scope volume with multiple theoretical innovations and interesting empirical case studies on various ways in which commons research is used, applied, extended, and improved upon. A must-read volume.’

Raul Pacheco-Vega - Associate Professor, FLACSO Mexico

‘Strangely enough, legal scholars have long been absent in the domain of commons studies, although property and rights are all over the place when we’re talking about the use of collective resources. This Handbook introduces various new applications of the concept of commons – amongst others, from the legal perspective – and connects it in particular to discussions about the public domain. It offers the material for a most welcome reflection on the limits, but also possibilities, of collective resource governance and use.’

Tine De Moor - Professor of Social Enterprise and Institutions for Collective Action, Erasmus University

'A largely overdue primer on a fast-developing field. This is an impressive collection of recent thought and practices on managing different kinds of shared resources.'

Ugo Mattei - The Alfred and Hanna Fromm Distinguished Professor of International and Comparative Law, UC Hastings and Professor of Civil Law, University of Turin

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