The Sustainable Economics of Elinor Ostrom
Commons, contestation and craft
By Derek Wall
Routledge – 2014 – 224 pages
Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel Prize-winning work on common pool property rights has implications for some of the most pressing sustainability issues of the 21st century — from tackling climate change, to maintaining cyberspace. In this book, Derek Wall critically examines Ostrom’s work, while also exploring the following questions: is it possible to combine insights rooted in methodological individualism with a theory that stresses collectivist solutions? Is Ostrom’s emphasis on largely local solutions to climate change relevant to a crisis propelled by global factors?
This volume situates her ideas in terms of the constitutional analysis of her partner Vincent Ostrom and wider institutional economics. It outlines her key concerns, including a radical research methodology, commitment to indigenous people and the concept of social-ecological systems. Ostrom is recognised for producing a body of work which demonstrates how people can construct rules that allow them to exploit the environment in an ecologically sustainable way, without the need for governmental regulation, and this book argues that in a world where ecological realities increasingly threaten material prosperity, such scholarship provides a way of thinking about how humanity can create truly sustainable development.
Given the interdisciplinary nature of Ostrom’s work, this book will be relevant to those working in the areas of environmental economics, political economy, political science and ecology.
'With great clarity and erudition, Derek Wall reveals the complexities of Elinor Ostrom's thinking as she formulated her brilliant insights about human cooperation and the commons. This book is a captivating intellectual biography that explains how Ostrom challenged the economic and political orthodoxies of her time, built a robust international network of scholars, and produced a body of literature that continues to nourish the contemporary commons movement.' — David Bollier, independent commons scholar and activist, and author of Think Like a Commoner
1. An Accidental Life? 2. Signs and Wonders 3. On Method 4. Au Contraire, Monsieur Hardin! 5. Green from the Grassroots: Social-ecological systems 6. Knowledge Commons 7. The Political Economy of the Commons in Physical Goods 8. Politics without Romance 9. A New Science for a New World Appendix: Institutional Analysis and Development: Micro
Derek Wall is Associate Lecturer in the Department of Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.