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Keeping Away from the Leviathan: The Case of the Swedish Forest Commons

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Carlsson, Lars
Date: 2001
Agency: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris
Series: Management of Social Transformations Discussion Paper, no. 51
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3691
Sector: Forestry
Region: Europe
Subject(s): common pool resources
forest management
Ostrom, Elinor
Abstract: "The role of common property in industrialised society raises a number of questions relevant to constitutional and democratic theory and policy. These questions are discussed here with reference to the current situation of the Swedish Forest Commons. It is shown that commons which have survived for more than one hundred years have difficulties in handling the entrenchment of the principles of liberal democracy, even though their existence is ultimately protected by the liberal democratic state. With reference to Giddens' (1984) theory of structuring and Kiser and Ostrom's (1982) meta-theoretical framework, this article challenges the theory that the constitution forms an institutional hierarchy by restraining collective and operational rules, suggesting rather that lower level rules change and adapt independently. It subsequently tackles the problem of how to identify appropriately the constitution of the commons. Finally it stresses that, despite the fact that the State (the Leviathan [2] ) guarantees the existence of the commons, one of their means of survival is to keep away from the State."

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