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Considering the Woods AND the Trees

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Agrawal, Arun
Journal: The Common Property Resource Digest
Volume: 64
Page(s): 4-5
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6667
Sector: Global Commons
Social Organization
Subject(s): commons
Abstract: "Menon and Lele’s note about my 2001 World Development paper makes a useful point – that most studies of the commons tend to focus on questions of institutional persistence and ignore questions related to equity and distribution. It is a relatively normal-science criticism that they present as a novel argument. To the extent my paper represents the existing mainstream literature on the commons reasonably, Menon and Lele’s attention to allocation is well justified. But this is hardly a new theme in critiques of writings on common property. Indeed, what Menon and Lele call 'the mainstream literature on the commons' is such a sitting duck on issues of politics and distributional equity that it seems hardly fair to take aim at it in 2003 using this particular sling. Michael Goldman assertively made essentially the same point six years ago in a paper published in Theory and Society. I raise the issue in a somewhat different way – by talking about power and the ways commons scholars (do not) attend to it in their analyses– in a paper that appeared in Contributions to Indian Sociology at almost exactly the same time as the paper in World Development."

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