Bigger issues in a smaller world

The future of the commons

Authored by: Cheryl Chan , Fatima Noor Khan , Sajida Awan

Routledge Handbook of the Study of the Commons

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138060906
eBook ISBN: 9781315162782
Adobe ISBN:


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Commons literature is continuously expanding and shifting to reflect emerging global issues. First, drawing from our understanding of traditional commons (i.e., single, finite resources), there has been a shift towards recognizing more intangible resource types as commons (e.g., information, culture) (Bowers, 2009; Hess, 2008). Second, there is increasing attention regarding the distinction between the “tragedy of the commons” and the tragedy or dilemma of “the commoners” (De Moor, 2015; Goldman, 1993)—emphasizing not only resources but also the institutions through which they are governed. The third shift, occurring in tandem with the above shifts, is the application of an interdisciplinary and systems-based lens to examine the commons and issues of commons governance (e.g., Armitage et al., 2017; Berkes, 2006).

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