Bob Jessop: Introduction to Elinor Ostrom

The article chosen for translation in this issue is by the recently deceased ‘Nobel Economics Laureate’, Elinor Ostrom. It presents a typical example of her heterodox and provocative critique of the abstract and formalistic case for the ‘tragedy of the commons’, i.e., the argument that rational economic humans have significant incentives to over-exploit ‘common pool resources’ at the margin and will eventually render then unsustainable to the lasting harm of future generations (cf. Hardin 1968). Ostrom’s analysis is based on her own fieldwork, critical comparison of many empirical studies, game-theoretic analyses, and experiments in institutional design. More

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