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Conflict Resolution Mechanisms Maintaining an Agricultural System: The Development of Local Courts as an Arena for Solving Collective Action Problems within Scandinavian Civil Law, 17th Century to the End of 19th Century

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Larsson, Jesper
Conference: Commons Amidst Complexity and Change, the Fifteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Conf. Date: May 25-29
Date: 2015
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/9842
Sector: Agriculture
Region: Europe
Subject(s): commons
conflict resolution
design principles
Abstract: "Rapid access to low-cost local arenas to resolve conflicts among appropriators is one of the principle’s that characterizes robust CPR institutions. In spite of this insight we have little knowledge about how such institutions solved collective action problems in early modern Scandinavia, when CPRs were an important part of the production. Arenas to resolve conflicts among appropriators range from informal meeting among users to formal court cases. This paper will focus on local courts within the Scandinavian legal origin and how these courts developed as arenas for CPR conflict resolution. Court rulings from the parish Leksand in central Sweden are the main source material for this study. The results indicate that access to a low cost arena was more important for the peasants than rapid access to the courts. Further, I demonstrate that the court acted so that disputing parties could solve collective action conflicts among themselves without a verdict from the court. Lay-judges, peasants from the region, came to play an important role in conflicts resolution. Thus, in the seventeenth and eighteenth century the court had an important role in maintaining an agricultural system with strong reliance on commons. The court came to lose this role during the nineteenth century."

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