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Why is There No Unified Theory of Environmental Governance?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Young, Oran R.
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/881
Sector: Theory
Global Commons
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
institutional analysis
tragedy of the commons
Ostrom, Elinor
global commons
Abstract: "Those who work on the role of institutions as determinants of the course of human/environment relations have much in common. They employ compatible perspectives on the nature of institutions, subscribe to the main tenets of the 'new institutionalism' in the social sciences, and seek to understand the roles that institutions play both in causing and confronting environmental problems. Yet this common agenda has not led to the emergence of a vibrant and mutually beneficial dialogue among those focusing on smallscale systems and approaching these issues from a bottom-up perspective and those examining macro-level systems and considering the issues from a top-down perspective. In this essay, I seek both to explain the reasons for this failure to engage in a lively dialogue and to offer some suggestions for overcoming this problem. I locate the causes of the problem in divergent research strategies, conceptual fixations, and conflicting methodological practices. Overcoming the resultant disconnect will not be easy. But I advocate a strategy featuring an emphasis on common questions and a commitment to common activities as a promising approach for those who believe that bridging the gap between bottom-up and top-down studies is both feasible and desirable."

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