Norwegian Commons: History, Status and Challenges

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology


"This paper will look at the Norwegian Commons with the following focus: How these ancient institutions have evolved during the last 200 years; The interests of the different stakeholders and the ensuing conflicts up to the present; How the institutions managing the commons have adapted to the changes in the Norwegian society from agrarian towards an industrialised and more urbanised country. By investigating the history and the privatisation and formalisation processes the commons have undergone, we are able to see how the institution has been able to adapt to changing economic and political environments. It illustrates the tension that has been and still is between the central power and the local community concerning the state commons. These tensions are however only one aspect of conflicts relating to the commons; at times there were equally high tensions between different local communities and also between various stakeholders within local communities. But maybe the most important is that it shows that the institution of the commons has persisted for nearly a thousand years, and that it may exist side by side with 'ordinary' private and public ownership of land. It can also adapt and modernise into becoming an important voice of the local community in local and central politics. It has also been a goal of this research to provide documentation of one example (of many) of the thriving existence of common property ownership in modern western countries, showing that this ownership form is not an 'archaic' or outdated form that only exists in poorer developing countries. Furthermore the report shows that the commons have not been a stagnant form of ownership, but has changed and still changes according to the tendencies particularly in the rural/agricultural sector. It discusses some of the modern time challenges for the commons in society."



land tenure and use, rural affairs, common pool resources, law, history