The Dilemma of the Commoners: Understanding the Use of Common Pool Resources in Long-Term Perspective (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)
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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.
2006; 2010; and T. De Moor 2014). Just like guilds and commons, beguinages were able to develop in western Europe because of the loose family ties, the European marriage pattern, and changes in the labor market, which allowed women – including single women – to secure their own income, while still in need of protection when living as single women in the medieval and early modern towns. In principle one could compare beguinages and guilds: some of the women who became beguines did so because the
Campine area of Belgium (see, e.g., M. De Moor 2002; 2003a). The word ‘commoner’ in this chapter is used as a reference to a person who has use-rights on a common, not as a reference to ‘common folk’. 2 Introduction institutions for collective action in this book demonstrate a high degree of such self-governance by rules that were self-restrictive and self-sanctioning if such rules were not followed correctly. To some extent, self-governance was – in the absence of a well-functioning state
analysis thus gives us the possibility to study dynamics of commons over the very long term and the role of commoners’ behavior therein, which is a clear competitive advantage over the methodologies of other social sciences. As much as this book presents a narrative on the history of commons in western Europe, it is also intended as a step towards developing an interdisciplinary method to study change in institutions for collective action. The essential ingredient for a well-functioning and
from economic advantages when joining a guild, but they could equally beneﬁt from funeral insurance, by which their wives and children would be taken care of after their death. As long as they lived up to the expectations that were set, and this is exactly where the beneﬁts of multipurpose institutions are to be reaped, they could beneﬁt from all services and goods offered by the collective. Linking various beneﬁts together is not only efﬁcient in terms of time spent on achieving goals as an
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