Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
Brocker I 730
Self-Organization/levels/economy/social goods/Ostrom: Market and state organisations inevitably have a multi-level problem: there are rules at a operational, collective or constitutional level.
Brocker I 731
Problem: to test rules and their effects in theory, it is assumed that when rules are changed, those at lower levels are kept constant. (1)
Self-organization: this assumption cannot be established in systems with self-organizing actors. Actors must be able to switch between levels to solve problems.
Individuals who do not have autonomy for self-organization and self-administration remain imprisoned in their one-level world. (2)
Brocker I 732
For the study of strategies for the sustainable management of common goods (social goods), Ostrom selects very different examples from different regions of the world (Switzerland, Japan, Philippines, Spain) with different cultures and environmental conditions. (3)
Question: are there general principles for the establishment of management rules and cooperation between the actors that can be recognised by these different cases?
Operational Rules/Ostrom: (see also Organization/Ostrom): here there are also construction principles that have a decisive influence on the sustainability of the presented resource management systems:
1. clearly defined limits for households or persons who have the right to withdraw units from the common land.
2. congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions
3. arrangements for collective decisions: most people can participate in decisions about changes to the operational rules.
4. supervision: the supervisors are accountable to the owners (of common goods) or even are owners themselves.
5. graduated sanctions for breaches of the rules
6. conflict resolution mechanisms: participants have quick access to low-cost local arenas that resolve conflicts.
7. minimal recognition of the right to organise: the right of owners to develop their own institutions is not called into question by any external state authority.
8. embedded companies: (for larger, more complex systems): here, appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution and administration are embedded in several levels.
Common goods/overuse: None of the above rules in itself is sufficient to prevent Hardin's "tragedy of the common good" (see Social Goods/Hardin) - i.e. the forced overuse of common goods.
Brocker I 734
Free-rider problem/solution/Ostrom: only investments in cost-effective, self-organized monitoring make the promises of the individual users credible. At the same time, they participate in the surveillance themselves in order to prevent exploitation by their neighbours.
Learning/Sanctions: for learning it is important that the sanctions are not existentially threatening at the beginning.
Brocker I 734
State intervention: Problem: Self-regulation and self-initiative are threatened by state intervention and regulation. (4)(5) See Social Goods/Ostrom.


1. Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge 1990. Dt.: Elinor Ostrom, Die Verfassung der Allmende. Jenseits von Staat und Merkt, Tübingen 1999, p. 68.
2. Ibid. p. 70
3. Ibid. p. 72f
4. Hanisch „Cooperatives in Rural Devolopment and Poverty Alleviation“, in: Jos Bijman/Roldan Muradian/Jur Schuurman (Ed.) Cooperatives, Economic Democratization and Rural Development, Cheltenham/Northampton 2016, p. 55
5. Helen Markelova Ruth Meinzen-Dick/Jon Hellin/Stephan Dohrn, „Collective Action for Smallholder Market Access“, in: Food Policy 34/1, 2009, p. 5


Markus Hanisch, „Elinor Ostrom Die Verfassung der Allmende“, in: Manfred Brocker (Hg.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconOstr I
Elinor Ostrom
Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action Cambridge 1990

Brocker I
Manfred Brocker
Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert Frankfurt/M. 2018


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