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The Dilemma of the Commoners
Understanding the Use of Common-Pool Resources in Long-Term Perspective


Part of Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions

  • Date Published: April 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107022164

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About the Authors
  • One of the classic problems in social science is known as 'the dilemma of the commons', in which land, water, and other resources held jointly by social or economic segments tend to be depleted sooner and to a greater extent than privately held assets. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many aspects of western European society changed fundamentally, including the abolition of common-property rights, which in itself was related to social and economic shifts in that same society. This book intends to put the debate on commons, commoners, and the disappearance of both throughout early modern and modern northwestern Europe in a new light, through new approaches and innovative methodologies. Tine De Moor aims to link the historical debate about the long-term evolution of commons to the present-day debates on common-pool resources, as well as touching upon various disciplines within the social sciences that work on commons issues.

    • Links present-day debates to historical research
    • Multidisciplinary but still accessible for both researchers from various disciplines and non-academic readers
    • Gives long-term analyses but at the same time also tells the stories behind the central case study
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Few people are more prepared than Tine De Moor to delve in the historical record of the commons, and to help restore the longue durée in our thinking about the commons. Now that the commons, in their old physical formats but also crucially in their new knowledge and digitally enabled formats, are making a return on the world stage, long-term thinking and an acquaintance with how they solved perennial issues is more important than ever. Maintaining sustainable commons over the longer term is crucial to protect our biosphere, and De Moor gives us the tools and historical experience to do so.' Michel Bauwens, Founder, Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives

    'Why, in a world of selfish individuals, does cooperation emerge? The book by Tine De Moor is a challenging response to this main question through a long-period reconstruction of common action in Europe, where common lands, guilds, and communities are the main actors. We discover in the end that we are a little less selfish than we thought and that to be less selfish is, perhaps, in our interest today. An important read!' Paolo Malanima, Magna Græcia University, Italy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107022164
    • length: 226 pages
    • dimensions: 237 x 160 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The emergence of commons and other forms of institutions for collective action in western Europe from the late Middle Ages onwards
    2. Common land and common rights in Flanders
    3. From rules to practice: case description, sources and methodology
    4. The choices of the commoners: understanding utility, efficiency and equity on the commons through the behavior of the commoners
    5. Dealing with dilemmas: conclusions
    6. Epilogue: the revenge of history? The return of the homo cooperans in present-day western European countries.

  • Author

    Tine De Moor, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands
    Tine De Moor is Professor of 'Institutions for Collective Action in Historical Perspective' at Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands. She has published in various journals on a variety of topics in social and economic history, but most extensively on commons in northwestern Europe. She has won several prizes for her research, including the Prize for the Best Dissertation in the Category 'Medieval and Early Modern Period' of the International Economic History Association. She is also an elected member of the executive board of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) and the founder, former editor-in-chief, and member of the editorial board of the International Journal of the Commons.

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