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Defining the Commons: The Social Practice of Commoning as Core Determinant

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Euler, Johannes
Conference: The City as a Commons: Reconceiving Urban Space, Common Goods and City Governance, 1st Thematic IASC Conference on Urban Commons
Location: Bologna, Italy
Conf. Date: November 6-7
Date: 2015
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9950
Sector: Theory
Subject(s): commons
Abstract: The age-old notion of the commons seems to become more and more popular. This has certainly to do with E. Ostrom's prize in 2009 but also the multiple crises can be said to have increased the interest in alternative ways of social organization. However, different advocates as well as critiques operate with a range of different understandings of the term commons. E. Ostrom and her colleagues and also scholars of Resource Economics often define a specific type of goods as common pool resources which serves as a synonym for the term commons. According to this definition, commons are those goods that depict a high subtractability of use and where it is highly difficult to exclude potential beneficiaries. Mainly in social movements and critical discourses rights-based or normative definitions circulate. Something is declared a commons if the current arrangement of control over the resources in question are claimed not to be in accordance with the rights of some people and/or normatively wrong (i.e. because they lead to exclusions, destruction of nature, exploitation etc.). Further, common ownership or common property regimes are sometimes referred to as commons. Commons would thus be something that belongs to a group of people. Others link the notion of commons to a social practice named commoning. This practice is supposed to be the core of what makes commons what they are."

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