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Against the Wind: On Reintroducing Commons Law in Modern Society

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Sandberg, Audun
Conference: Voices from the Commons, the Sixth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Berkeley, CA
Conf. Date: June 5-8, 1996
Date: 1996
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1802
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
land tenure and use--history
mountain regions
Abstract: "This paper examines the conditions for common property institutional designs in modern societies. Since the age of Enlightenment, modernisation has taken the form of a parallel growth of the significance of the state and the significance of the individual, at the expense of the intermediary or secondary groups or collectives of various kinds. With a modern notion of overburdening and high transaction costs of the mature state and a disrupting alienation of the individual, the search for institutional solutions that are 'neither market, nor state', has intensified both in academia and bureaucracies. However, such efforts often clash with many of the values of modern western society as they has developed during the last 200 years. The paper analyses a case from Northern Norway where the political struggle over the reintroduction of Commons Law for Mountain areas revealed some of these contradictions - especially in relation to the ideas underlying the 20th century 'welfare state'. The case also shows why many suboptimal solutions in modern resource management are favoured because of the value attached to individual freedom and equal treatment by the state - even when these contradict the sustainable governing of a resource. While institutional designs based on smaller collectives are perceived as less attractive because they involve less individual freedom, more duties and more inequality. The lessons from this is then used for a discussion of the role of common property institutions in the process of modernisation."

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