The uses and abuses of Elinor Ostrom’s concept of commons in urban theorizing

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The uses and abuses of Elinor Ostrom’s concept of commons in urban theorizing

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Publication Conference Paper, other
Title The uses and abuses of Elinor Ostrom’s concept of commons in urban theorizing
Author(s) Parker, Peter ; Johansson, Magnus
Date 2011
English abstract
Any urban setting will contain privately owned spaces, public space and different aspects of mixed space that are not wholly public or private but which constitute common resources. Some urban common resources are tangible such as parks, sidewalks and libraries and some are intangible like a sense of security allowing people to move freely in the city, a sense of belonging, or general buzz. The notion of commons has been given an important upswing in popularity after Elinor Ostrom’s 2009 Nobel Prize. Her work on common-pool resources seems to provide a starting point for grappling with issues of urban commons. However, Ostrom’s earlier work (Ostrom 1990) deals with subtractive and tangible resources (like fish, water and forests). And one important design principle for governance of these commons is that the group of appropriators can erect clear boundary rules. A central characteristic of urban settings however is mobility, permeable boundaries and perhaps that at least occasionally resources are less clearly subtractible. It is therefore questionable to what extent theories of governing the commons relying on Ostrom’s models can be applied in urban settings. However, it may also be that urban commons may have somewhat different character but may be fruitfully approached using the same basic framework. Inroads have been made for instance on informational commons (Ostrom 2007) which also seem radically different from fisheries or water basins. This paper presents are review (in process) of how Ostrom's theories have been applied in urban studies and to highlight the potential and limitations of these approaches.
Pages 17
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) commons
participatory management
collective management
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Note Conference of the European Urban Research Association, Copenhangen 23-25th of June 2011.
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