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Mountain Commons and the Social Economy in Romania

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Irina-Sînziana, Opincaru
Conference: Practicing the Commons: Self-Governance, Cooperation and Institutional Change
Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Conf. Date: 10-14 July
Date: 2017
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/10376
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Europe
Subject(s): commons
cooperatives
property rights
governance
Abstract: "The subject of forest and pasture commons in Romania (named “obști” or “composesorate”) has been scarcely studied, with only a few scholars engaging in the research of these associations in a structured manner (Vasile, 2006; Vasile and Mantescu, 2009). Moreover, their work was mainly centered on the study of the various processes of the commons, such as post-communism recreation, operations, members’ management and governance or the relation with the local community, but has not addressed the commons’ place or role in the wider sector of social economy in Romania. The subject of social economy (or the third sector) organizations in the country faced a significant growth in interest in the recent years, with both academics and public policy makers being interested in a better understanding and regulation of this sphere, but losing sight of particular forms of association. Thus, this paper comes to fill a gap in knowledge regarding both the forest and pasture commons in Romania and their rightful place in the sphere of social economy. Specifically, there will be analyzed over 40 forest and pasture commons in Covasna County, Romania. They own large amounts of land (on average around 700 ha each) and function as fully-fledged village-based institutions. Their characteristics, processes, management and governance practices will be explored, in order to show differences and similarities with more typical social economy organizations, such as cooperatives. The main argument is that forest and pasture commons in Romania are an important part in the structure of the third sector. They have a significant role in the development of the local communities where they function and should be taken into account with all their specificities in the creation of the policies and funding schemes of social economy. In conclusion, by closely examining the forest and pasture commons in Covasna County, Romania, this paper aims to bring to the forefront the characteristics of a rich associative sector emerging in Eastern Europe, with an important role to play in the social economy."

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