Anotated Bibliography: The Commons

Hardin, G. (1968). Tragedy of the Commons. Science, 162, 1243-1248.

This is the seminal essay on the topic I strive to discuss in my essay. Hardin is the first to address many of these issues, and although there are a handful of criticisms of this essay, it remains one of the most important in the field. Hardin outlines the social/economical/ecological issues that bring about the over exploitation of common land. His major point throughout the essay is that common land, for example a field used by multiple cow herders, can be ruined by the lack of communal thinking and slight “selfishness” of a few individuals.

Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action Ostrom, Elinor, Cambridge University Press, 1990

Elinor Ostrom is a legendary political economist with a major focus on management of common land. She actually just won the Nobel Prize in Economic Studies in 2009 and was the first woman to do so.  In this piece Ostrom coins the term “common pool resources” to describe resources shared by different groups which are generally over exploited in the self interest of each single group. The two major solutions here are privatization or control by central government. Ostrom proposes an alternative method of control by cooperative institutions run by the user groups themselves.

Ostrom, Elinor, Gardner, Roy and James Walker, ed. Rules, Games, and Common Pool Resources. Ann Arbour: University of Michigan Press, 1993.

In this book, Ostrom and friends expand upon the previously proposed ideas behind Ostrom’s common pool resources. The authors here utilize game theory in order to make predictions about the user groups of common pool resources. In this sense the book has more of a scientific angle to it than any of the other books in my bibliography, which I think will add a nice alternative aspect to my evidence throughout the paper.

Benton, Ted, ed. The Greening of Marxism. New York: Guilford, 1996

This book is a compilation of essays, many of which are possibilities for my paper, but the specific one I’m thinking of using is Marxism and the Environmental Question from the Critical Theory of Production to an Environmental Rationality for Sustainable Development by Enrique Leff. I will use this essay, along with a few of the other prospective pieces in this book to bring in Marxist ideas to my essay.  Leff proposes that, ” Marxism in fact offers the theoretical basis needed to demystify the dominant neoliberal discourse and to clarify the current conflict between the conditions of sustainable capitalism (based on the expansion of investment, production, markets, and profits) and those of ecological and environmental sustainability.”

Lessig, Lawrence. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. New York: Vintage Books, 2001.

This book provides a different angle from which to discuss ideas of the commons. Rather than a physical thing, Lessig uses the internet as a model for the commons, and shared  knowledge as a metaphor for environmental resources. I don’t plan on discussing the internet directly in my paper, rather, I will use Lessig’s theoretical ideas on common resources and connect them with the above authors’ ideas on environmental resources.

Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick. The German Ideology. (1845-46) Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976.

In this piece, Marx and Engels touch on a multitude of important aspects regarding everything from conservationism to the privatization of land. As the earliest piece I will use out of my sources, this seminal essay set the standard for what would later come. The aspect of this essay I find most important to my piece is the break down of the effects, and the history of privatization of property.

Latour, Bruno and Weibel, Peter ed. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Boston: MIT press, 2005.

This book is a collection of meditations on democracy by a group of different writers from different back grounds. This book will serve to beef up my abstract ideas about commons as well as ideas of privatization as well as making resources public. Although not aligning itself directly with many Marxist ideals, the book proposes radically new ways of looking at democracy, and at the role of politics in a republic. These ideas will add a fresh perspective to some of the dryer methods of Marxism.

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