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From Common Pastures to Global Commons: An Historical Perspective on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Commons

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Author: De Moor, Tine
Conference: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future, the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Hyderabad, India
Conf. Date: January 10-14
Date: 2011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/7251
Sector: Global Commons
Subject(s): interdisciplinarity
global commons
Abstract: "Commons-research has over the past decennia gained considerable maturity, and the various disciplines that work on the subject have moved closer to each other. There is however still one essential and quite fundamental point of disagreement--although this is hardly ever made explicit--and that is about the use of the term 'commons'--which is a term that has been used for literally centuries--for large-scale open access resources such as oceans, the air we are breathing etc., also referred to as 'global commons'. Although it cannot be denied that the air, the seas etc. are in principle collective property to all creatures living on earth, these resources lack two characteristics that are typical for the historical commons, from which the initial use stems: institutionalisation and self-governance. In this article I try to explain the difference between historical commons and global commons and, in the second part, suggestions to overcome this problem and the methodological differences that still exist are suggested. This is done by redesigning the classic economics framework of subdividing goods according to their substractability and excludability. Overcoming these problems would improve the integration of the long-term historical approach into the analysis of present-day cases."

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