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Behavioral and Organizational Modifications of Enforcement/Avoidance Theories: The Fisheries Case

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: McGuire, Thomas R.; Langworthy, Mark
Conference: Common Property Conference, the Second Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Conf. Date: 26-29 September, 1991
Date: 1991
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/765
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): fisheries
monitoring and sanctioning
tragedy of the commons
rational choice theory
Abstract: "Our central effort here is to begin to think, in a very preliminary and programmatic way, about an area which has received surprisingly little formal and empirical attentions specifically, the dynamics of local resource use under exogenously imposed and enforced formal regulation. In short, we want to reexamine Hardin's discredited 'Leviathan,' a theoretical baby which most anthropologists, in their unstoppable quest for locally emergent solutions to commons problems 'local compliance rules' and their disciplinary suspicion of 'state intervention,' have thrown out with the bathwater. Given the tenacity of the 'state' in the real world, of the persistence of externally imposed regulatory regimes, we ought to be developing empirically-informed non-compliance theories. "Economists, quite recently, have immersed themselves in that bathwater, developing one or another variant of an enforcement/avoidance theory--EAT, for ease of reference--and even occasionally attempting to measure the costs of implementing and breaking rules. The difficulties of measurement should not be underestimated: what we are dealing with of course is by definition illegal activity, clearly on the part of the avoiders, and, as we will suggest later, perhaps on the part of enforcers as well. But these measurement problems need not deter us from some conceptual speculations on what ought to be studied and measured by, we would hope, anthropologists as well as economists. "We begin with a brief discussion of the relationship of EAT to CPT--common property theory. We then lay out a 'template,' if you will, for the anthropologically-informed analysis of enforcement and avoidance. Finally, we will look briefly at what appears to be going on in the shrimp fishery in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. We can guarantee that our response to any questions you might pose to that empirical case will be 'we don't know yet,' but we are interested precisely in the kind of informed questions you might raise."

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