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Human rights have become a principle and a value that have increasingly gained the support of various segments of society. Human rights are often associated with democracy, the rule of law, the civilizing process and human dignity. They are also associated with the idea that everyone, anywhere and regardless of their citizenship status, has basic rights, which must be respected by others and the state (see, among others, Sen, 2004).
This article describes the development of the moral economy of merit among the fishermen and rural poor of Dalai Village, Magtaal soum, Mongolia. In 1971, the historian E. P. Thompson used the term “moral economy” to describe a popular consensus on what was considered right and wrong in economic behavior, arguing that its provocation motivated the eighteenth-century English poor to engage in crowd-based political action. In contemporary, post-socialist eastern Mongolia, the rural poor have constructed a pervasive local discourse on what is considered legitimate (“merit-making” or buyantai) versus what is illegitimate in economic behavior that morally-condones their illegal wildlife procurement, selling, and smuggling activities. The political contexts of these case studies are compared in order to detail a similar political-economic progression: (1) the recent market liberalization of the commons, sparking moral outrage amongst those classes newly disadvantaged through this shift to the market; and (2) the formation of an anti-profiteering moral discourse among these classes, designed to limit the ability of others to economically capitalize off of these circumstances. Comparing the case studies, the moral economy is manifested as exchange practices involving commons-marked goods that distribute their benefits among the participants, envisioned as thereby promoting group wellbeing rather than the uneven accumulation by individuals.
In our data-driven society, personal data affecting individuals as data subjects are increasingly being collected and processed by sizeable and international companies. While data protection laws and privacy technologies attempt to limit the impact of data breaches and privacy scandals, they rely on individuals having a detailed understanding of the available recourse, resulting in the responsibilization of data protection. Existing data stewardship frameworks incorporate data-protection-by-design principles but may not include data subjects in the data protection process itself, relying on supplementary legal doctrines to better enforce data protection regulations. To better protect individual autonomy over personal data, this paper proposes a data protection-focused data commons to encourage co-creation of data protection solutions and rebalance power between data subjects and data controllers. We conduct interviews with commons experts to identify the institutional barriers to creating a commons and challenges of incorporating data protection principles into a commons, encouraging participatory innovation in data governance. We find that working with stakeholders of different backgrounds can support a commons’ implementation by openly recognizing data protection limitations in laws, technologies, and policies when applied independently. We propose requirements for deploying a data protection-focused data commons by applying our findings and data protection principles such as purpose limitation and exercising data subject rights to the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework. Finally, we map the IAD framework into a commons checklist for policy-makers to accommodate co-creation and participation for all stakeholders, balancing the data protection of data subjects with opportunities for seeking value from personal data.
Americans know the story of democracy: how the Framers built a government with branches that would check and balance, that would derive its authority from sovereign citizens, filtered and refined by their elected representatives. Americans may refer to our system as “democracy” but the representative republican framework provided by the Framers ensured the safe democratization of our country over time. This well-rehearsed story frames American democracy as a bequest from the Framers. Yet this powerful founding story is a victor’s tale, designed to erase from collective historical memory a very real battle with a robust alternative model of democratic theory and practice that was flourishing – much to the Framers’ consternation – in the early nation. This alternative democracy originated in the daily practices of ordinary colonists. Their vernacular democracy generated and motored revolution; and though the political elite embraced this participatory and equalitarian practice, they later pulled away, seeking in their words to “tame” the democratic enthusiasm and power of ordinary American citizens even as they drew on that power (renamed “sovereignty”) to authorize the representative federal republicanism they offered as a containment device. Knowing about vernacular democracy enables readers to see its record in the literature of the early United States.
This chapter on Henry David Thoreau puts in relief the ecological commons and historiography of nature that issue from the environmental relations illustrated by the sketch. Connecting Thoreau’s Cape Cod to his “Dispersion of Seeds,” the chapter describes these relations in terms of the dispersal that follows from waves rising and receding upon the shore and tossing up weeds, corpses, and all kinds of salvage materials left from shipwrecks. The sketch’s seeing—and enacting—of relation as a littoral erosion and disintegration presents an alternate sense of how one lives with, pressed up against, familiarly or strangely, other species and races. If a romantic ecology might envision relations in the form of an interconnected cobweb, Thoreau’s late manuscripts release those slight silky threads to the air and lets them fly apart and ray out prismatically. This chapter follows how Thoreau’s sketches embody the ways in which text becomes a natural history of casualty, attending to species and race, and engaging with them by way of an environmental optics. The tenuous lines of sight draw a partial ecology that stretches and cleaves the liminalities between “nature” and Thoreau’s “I,” even as it disperses those very entities.
This article examines the enclosure of the de facto commons that surrounded New Orleans during the final decades of the nineteenth century and argues that public parks were crucial tools deployed by civic elites on behalf of that initiative. As the regulatory efforts of reform-minded mayor Joseph A. Shakspeare failed to eliminate the persistent “cattle nuisance” that emanated from the undeveloped suburbs, he turned to parks as a means of fundamentally transforming the character of the land. By physically enclosing large swathes of acreage, conditioning the public to be urban subjects, and associating the area with leisure rather than agrarian production, the parks made it possible for the city’s modernizers to push dairy farmers out of the area and initiate a process of residential development. By examining this strategic use of greenspace in Gilded Age-era New Orleans, this article seeks to shed new light on the ways in which the urban environment was manipulated in service of the broader New South movement.
This chapter challenges a key precondition for many sustaining commons institutions - tight-knit communities. It argues that the gradual transformation of traditional nomadic societies into modern urban societies reflects a major change that has weakened the ability of kinship relations to serve as a social incentive to support sustainable common property regimes resulting in the fostering of a modern urban tragedy of the commons.
The chapter illuminates this argument by analyzing theories of social evolution and examining closely the urbanization processes undergone by Bedouin society in Israel, in which tight kinship relations traditionally supported sustainable management of the commons. The urbanization of Bedouin society challenged this traditional regime and triggered the evolution of private urban-style property units, on the one hand, and modern tragedies of the commons, on the other.
The chapter raises the question whether societies in which kinship ties have become less powerful can still produce strong enough incentives for collaboration.
Watercourses are a quintessential common-pool resource. In arid regions of the United States, use of the available is privatized by the adoption of prior appropriation. Prior appropriation has admirably done its job in eliminating unauthorized, illegal, self-help redistributions of the commons that threatened a tragic free-for-all competition. Over time, prior appropriation proved inadequate at solving other commons problems. Prior appropriation creates strong incentives to over-rapid development of water-dependent uses and wastefully excessive uses designed to obtain the right to use (in perpetuity) larger than needed amounts of water. Checks in prior appropriation have failed to do their job and a major environmental problem looms in the form of ever-increasing instances of total stream dewatering. Again, prior appropriation could, in theory, address de-watering, but has failed to do so. Additional coercive law is needed, the most effective and direct of which is rigorous implementation and enforcement of minimum flow and level regimes.
Elinor Ostrom pointed out significance of rule structures, and the need for institutional diversity in addressing commons problems. This is particularly true in relation to the governance of large-scale commons resources and one global commons that requires attention is the economic system. We share the institutional arrangements that generate economic benefits but neither the wealth generated by the system, nor the negative impacts, are shared equally. The result is an economic system focused on the privatisation of shared resources that generates inequalities around the globe. This paper explores the economic system as a ‘co-created’ commons. The paper brings together two broad strands of literature on commons: one arising from the public trust doctrine, and the other based on the economic characteristics of a good or service in terms of its access (‘excludability’) and consumption (‘subtractability’). The paper links these concepts with more recent work on ‘productive commons’, where shared resources are generated through collaborative activity, and ideas from evolutionary economics, which explore the economic system as a process and structure of rules, rather than as a series of transactions based on the allocation of property rights. Evidence is provided to support the argument that commons are an integral element of the economic system, and as a result account for some of its efficiencies and, where rule structures fail, for negative impacts on socio-economic and ecological systems.
Intuitively, much research in commons research focuses on collaborative governance of environmental resources. At the same time, due to the pressures of climate change, the number of natural disasters will only increase, and humanitarian crises are already on an uptake. As a result, I aim to extend this line of inquiry in my discussion of humanitarian aid as a shared and contested common resource. I take the example of the 2013–2016 West Africa Ebola Epidemic, which occurred along the border of three countries with different institutional histories. Drawing on interviews with 100 civil society organizations and domestic NGOs, I illustrate how top-down management of the 2013–2016 Ebola Response by governmental and international organizations led to policy failure, only until local organizations were involved. Ebola unveils the inefficiency of neglecting local actors, typical in international humanitarian response. In addition, contestation of humanitarian aid resources viewed as “commons” by recipients and “private” by international aid organizations fuels tensions in the aid relationship, and particularly during a crisis where local buy-in is essential.
The resource management complications posed by “Temporal Commons”– the common pool of time shared by present and future generations when making resource management decisions – are understudied in the literature. This chapter attempts to briefly describe their nature, before detailing how the typical solutions to the tragedy of the commons – private property, government regulation, and Elinor Ostrom’s successful collective action model – fail to adequately account for temporal commons. Next, the chapter explores some factors that distinguish temporal commons from traditionally studied commons, making them subject to a potentially more inevitable form of tragedy. The chapter concludes with initial thoughts on avenues for better addressing the dilemmas created by temporal commons.
Is a community land trust (CLT) a commons, metaphorically or in actuality? The CLT-Commons inquiry is indicated by the ubiquity of CLTs in fair development movements: reclaiming commons for the commoners in contexts of vacant disinvested housing held away from people needing it for housing by its private and State ‘stewards.’ Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are part of nearly every progressive response to today’s affordable housing crisis because they decommodify housing, taking it out of the speculative market, and securing land for permanently affordable housing. Although the CLT offers an intermediate form of land ownership and control between speculative market and the State, its distinct tenure and shared equity legal structure is not sufficient, alone, to merit a commons analysis. CLTs increasingly are promoted in housing policy circles as an economically efficient form of affordable housing. This suppresses the central features of classic-form CLT rooted in collective governance of the land by the economically marginalized and working-class people residing on the CLT land, in conjunction with non-resident CLT members, neighbors and supportive stakeholders who also participate in the governance of the CLT land to assure its transgenerational and multi-stakeholder purposes.
This chapter argues that race-based affirmative action in higher education is an intangible commons where the shared resource is diversity, the members are universities and students, and the individuals who seek to end affirmative action are agents of enclosure. The diversity commons provides insight into the conservation vulnerabilities of other commons resources. When affirmative action faces hostile litigation – universities (i.e., the protectors of the diversity commons) focus solely on diversity arguments. Universities’ interests diverge from minority students when they fail to offer equality based defenses (i.e., that admissions are racially discriminatory). While many members of the commons have overlapping interests, a commons is vulnerable to the extent that commons managers have divergent interests from other members. Conservationists must be aware of a party’s interest when considering who should have authority to defend the commons. In the diversity commons, a possible solution is to grant minority students intervenor status so they can advance equality arguments. This solution, if applied abstractly to other commons, would mean introducing gridlock as a conservation tool. One manifestation of gridlock could be to give all commons members with use rights the power to defend against development and enclosure.
Several funded projects have been implemented to revive the degrading common pool resources (CPR) in rural India. In such projects facilitating agencies play an important role. The extant literature on CPR institutions highlights the role of community and focuses on long-enduring and self-driven CPRs. It does not put much emphasis on facilitated institutions where an external agency plays critical roles. This paper tries to fill this gap by understanding how facilitating organizations engage with local dynamics and influence the outcomes. Based on a qualitative study of CPRs in 19 villages facilitated by 12 agencies in India, the study found that CPR development interventions are context-specific and often go through iterative processes. The facilitating organization does not play the role of a catalyst; instead, it actively influences the decision-making process through complex interactions at the community level. In doing this, the facilitating organization's priorities and preferences (which need not be compatible with the community's priorities) come to the forefront.
This chapter unpacks Garrett Hardin's 1968 landmark article "The Tragedy of the Commons" by exploring the controversial views of its author and the explosive social context from which it emerged. More than an essay about resource management in the abstract, Hardin's admitted main point in "The Tragedy of the Commons," often excerpted out of many anthologies and reprints, is at its core an argument for population control. Hardin’s views veered from the mainstream and openly incorporated racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant ideas. Given this, it seems quite surprising today that the article was received so well, both popularly and in academic circles. But in reality, Hardin's success came because of his focus on population – not in spite of it. The article came at just the right time to catch on: precisely when the environmental movement neared its crest and just before his most controversial idea – population control – was about to enter the public realm as a serious matter of debate.
The City of Bologna is widely recognized for an innovative regulatory framework to enable urban commons. The “Regulation on public collaboration for the Urban Commons” produced more than 400 pacts of collaboration and was adopted by more than 180 Italian cities so far. The chapter presents an empirical assessment of 280 pacts (2014–2016). The analytical approach is rooted in the literature on political economy and quality of democracy. It investigates whether a model of co-governance applied to urban assets as commons impacts on the democratic qualities of equality and rule of law at the urban level. The findings suggest the need for an experimentalist policymaking approach to institutionally redesign the City as a platform enabling collective action of multi-stakeholder partnerships that should be entrusted with the task to trigger a neighborhood-based sustainable development.
This chapter applies the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) Framework conceived by Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom in 1990 to the institutional arrangements that structure and organize the operating environments for civil society organizations (CSOs). We begin by defining what is meant by “civil society” and “CSOs,” and highlighting their essential attributes, followed by a discussion of the importance of the legal and regulatory frameworks that underlie the existence and operations of CSOs. We then briefly review Garett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” thesis before discussing the role of CSOs in preventing such tragedies from emerging. After presenting the types of rules that inform every IAD action situation and applying them to the existing research on CSO laws, we conclude by reconceptualizing CSO regulatory regimes through the lens of Ostrom’s IAD framework and analysis.
Rich countries and their elites emit most of the greenhouse gases responsible for global climate change. Why should the poor and middle classes cut their emissions while privileged elites continue their irresponsible behavior toward the common good? This chapter draws on economic anthropology and treats the atmosphere as common property, suggesting some ways of controlling the free riding of the super wealthy.
To explain how broader sections of the population than the nobility were included in Parliament we need to recapture the original character of representation as obligation. The chapter therefore presents the compellence model of obligation, which is predicated on ruler strength. The model is exemplified by the English case, which is traditionally taken as the paradigm for the alternative and most widely invoked model, which sees representation as the result of bargaining. Magna Carta is the classic historical precedent and it is here shown to depend on royal strength instead. The role of ruler strength and obligation is then further demonstrated by process-tracing the emergence of the English Parliament from the 1220s into the early 1300s. Though bargaining was pervasive, what channelled outcomes in a constitutional direction was the crown's capacity to enforce attandance across social orders. Bargaining was pervasive on the continent as well; what differed in England that the bottom-up requests for rights were preceded and followed by periods of strong royal capacity. The "fiscal fixation" of much social science thus needs to be revised. The institutional and, especially, judicial infrastructure in which state-society bargaining occurs is what shapes ultimate outcomes.
Based on the temporal schema of “hospicing late mono/lingualism” explored in Chapter 4, the Epilogue takes up the question of accountability to other generations of multilingual subjects, past and future, and considers how we may set out to assess that accountability. The epilogue ends in the form of an “Undercommon Framework of Reference for Languages,” based on the European Framework, as reinterpreted through the lens of Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s Black Studies-based conception of the Undercommons (2013). The book closes with a conceptual glossary of terms, used throughout these chapters and the Introduction, that aid the purposeful work of reinvigorating multilingualism for the coming century.