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Constitutionality: Emic Perceptions of Bottom-up Institution Building Processes

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Haller, Tobias; Acciaioli, Greg; Rist, Stephan
Conference: Design and Dynamics of Institutions for Collective Action: A Tribute to Prof. Elinor Ostrom, Second Thematic Conference of the IASC
Location: Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Conf. Date: 29 November - 1 December
Date: 2012
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8620
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): fisheries
customary law
new institutionalism
Abstract: "This paper presents a new approach for analysing bottom-up institution building processes. There is an important gap in the literature on institution building with regard to local perceptions of common pool resource management. Ostrom’s work highlights the way successful institutions work and which aspects are important for their success. Others such as Ensminger have highlighted the role that the bargaining power of actors and ideology play in the institution-building process. However, there is very little research on how local actors themselves view (i.e. emically) an institution-building process in retrospective. Based on four case studies (fisheries in Zambia; pasture and forestry in Mali; forestry in the lowlands and highlands of Bolivia; agricultural land and forestry in Indonesia) we propose a new analytical approach that stems from real cases of recent self-driven institution building, in which emic views become apparent. We label such self-driven processes as constitutionality, which we see as a conscious process of institution building from below which does not suffer from the drawbacks of top-down imposed processes of democratisation, decentralisation and participation, which are often subject to processes of elite capture. Contesting the view that subjects internalise governmentally imposed frames of viewing the world by ‘participating’ in institutions, as in Agrawal’s (2005) model of environmentality for resource governance, inspired by a Foucauldian notion of governmentality, our perspective emphasises instead how local actors construct a sense of ownership in the institution-building process by strategically pursuing local interests through that process, using theory of practice, actor-oriented approaches and a variant of the New Institutionalism approach. This approach incorporates power and heterogeneous group interest, and the theory of social learning."

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