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Salience and Its Implications for Common-Pool Resource Management in Scotland: A Tragedy of a Different Kind?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Brown, Katrina Myrvang; Slee, Bill
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1612
Sector: Grazing
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--theory
resource management--theory
Abstract: "In past contributions to CPR theory, the issue of salience/dependence on a resource has been flagged up as a one of a number of significant factors for robust CPR management. Nevertheless, few authors have pursued the matter in greater depth other than to assert that if the salience or dependence on the resource by group members is high, the more likely there is to be robust management. Moreover, for the majority of CPR studies, salience is implicitly or explicitly assumed to be high. However, cases do exist of CPRs in which this assumption does not hold, and consequently, related theory proves to be of limited utility in explaining the associated institutional and management-related phenomena. This paper challenges this assumption (and related assumptions) with reference to a recent study of common grazings in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, which feature a marked decline in the users dependence on the resource and a trend towards moribund communal arrangements and in some cases de facto privatisation. In highlighting some of the opportunities and constraints for common grazings management, the paper demonstrates that some of the basic preconditions implied in many CPR models are not always met in a post-productivist context. Indeed, the study found that CPR problems can be about declining use as well as under-use, that CPR goals can concern resource revalorization not conservation, and that the relationship between salience and shareholders motivation for CPR management is more complex than commonly portrayed in the literature. Indeed, the perception and capture of changing contemporary CPR values by various stakeholders is often problematic and, despite the dissimilarities with more traditional commons tragedies, deserves more attention than has thus far been given by CPR scholars. The elaboration of this CPR example underlines the way in which certain a priori assumptions about CPRs could be potentially misleading, and highlights the value of drawing contextual factors closer to the centre of the debate. In so doing, the paper calls into question the possibility and utility of constructing a coherent CPR meta-theory."

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