Commons

The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately - wikipedia

# Modern Use

The definition from the Digital Library of the Commons is;

"the commons is a general term for shared resources in which each stakeholder has an equal interest"

The term "commons" derives from the traditional English legal term for common land, which are also known as "commons", and was popularised in the modern sense as a shared resource term by the ecologist Garrett Hardin in an influential 1968 article called The Tragedy of the Commons.

As Frank van Laerhoven & Elinor Ostrom have stated; "Prior to the publication of Hardin’s article on the tragedy of the commons (1968), titles containing the words ‘the commons,’ ‘common pool resources,’ or ‘common property’ were very rare in the academic literature" - thecommonsjournal.org

# Types of commons

  1. Environmental Commons
    • European land use
    • Mongolian grasslands
    • Lobster fishery of Maine
    • Community forests in Nepal
    • Irrigation systems of New Mexico
  2. Cultural Commons
  3. Digital Commons

# Economic theories

# Tragedy of the commons

A commons failure theory, now called tragedy of the commons, originated in the 18th century. In 1833 William Forster Lloyd introduced the concept by a hypothetical example of herders overusing a shared parcel of land on which they are each entitled to let their cows graze, to the detriment of all users of the common land - jstor

The same concept has been called the "tragedy of the fishers", when over-fishing could cause stocks to plummet.

It has been said the dissolution of the traditional land commons played a watershed role in landscape development and cooperative land use patterns and property rights. However, as in the British Isles, such changes took place over several centuries as a result of land enclosure.

Economist Peter Barnes has proposed a 'sky trust' to fix this tragedic problem in worldwide generic commons. He claims that the sky belongs to all the people, and companies do not have a right to over pollute. It is a type of cap and dividend program. Ultimately the goal would be to make polluting excessively more expensive than cleaning what is being put back into the atmosphere.

# Successful commons

While the original work on the tragedy of the commons concept suggested that all commons were doomed to failure, they are still extremely important in the modern world.

Work by later economists has found many examples of very successful commons and Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel prize for analysing situations where they operate successfully.

For example, Ostrom found that grazing commons in the Swiss Alps have been run successfully for many hundreds of years by the farmers there - npr.org

Allied to this is the Comedy of the Commons concept, where very often users of the commons are able to develop mechanisms to police their use to maintain and even improve the state of the commons. This term was coined in an essay by legal scholar, Carol M. Rose, in 1986.

Other related concepts are the Inverse Commons, Cornucupia of the Commons, Triumph of the Commons in the cornucupia of the commons, some types of commons, such as open source software, work better as in those cases.

"the grass grows taller when it is grazed on" - The Cathedral & the Bazaar: by Eric Raymond

# Notable theorists

# Historical land commons movements

# Contemporary commons movements

# See also

"There is no commons without commoning." (attributed to Peter Linebaugh: Zitate)

Here we collect commons definitions and explain the meaning of the word 'commons'.