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Ambiente & Sociedade

On-line version ISSN 1809-4422

Abstract

OSTROM, Elinor. Reformulating the commons. Ambient. soc. [online]. 2002, n.10, pp. 5-25. ISSN 1809-4422.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1414-753X2002000100002.

The western hemisphere is richly endowed with a diversity of natural resource systems that are governed by complex local and national institutional arrangements that have not, until recently, been well understood. While many local communities that possess a high degree of autonomy to govern local resources have been highly successful over long periods of time, others fail to take action to prevent overuse and degradation of forests, inshore fisheries, and other natural resources. The conventional theory used to predict and explain how local users will relate to resources that they share makes a uniform prediction that users themselves will be unable to extricate themselves from the tragedy of the commons. Using this theoretical view of the world, there is no variance in the performance of self-organized groups. In theory, there are no self-organized groups. Empirical evidence tells us, however, that considerable variance in performance exists and many more local users self-organize and are more successful than it is consistent with the conventional theory . Parts of a new theory are presented here.

Keywords : commons; common-pool resources; self-organized groups.

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