Science & Technology

Property Rights, Conservation, and Community: The Evolution of Private and Common Property Rights


How do individuals manage the use and disposition of property? On one approach, individuals maintain private rights over the use and disposition of property, but throughout human history we see many examples of communally held rights over property. Homeowners associations, commonly held fishing rights, and water irrigation cooperatives are just a few examples where it is possible that individuals voluntarily holding rights communally may be better off than if those rights were held individually. What are the implications for liberty under these rights systems? Do they lead to greater limits on liberty, or are they typically voluntary and thus enhancing freedom and responsibility?


Conference Readings

Robert J. Smith. Private Solutions to Conservation Problems. Edited by Tyler Cowen. Fairfax, VA: GMU Press, 1988.

Ostrom, Elinor. Private and common-property rights. Edited by Bouckaert, B.; DeGesst, G.. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2000.

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Gordon, Scott. “The Economic Theory of a Common Property Resource: The Fishery.” Journal of Political Economy 62, no. 2 (April 1954): 124-142.

Hardin, Garrett. "The Tragedy of the Commons." Science 162, no. 3859 (December 1968): 1243-1248.

Johannes, Robert E. . Words of the lagoon: Fishing and Marine Lore in the Palau District of Micronesia. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1981.

Johannes, Robert E.. “The Renaissance of Community-Based Resource Management in Oceania.” Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics (2002): 317-340.

Li, Tania Murray. “Engaging Simplifications: Community-Based Resource Management, Market Processes and State Agendas in Upland Southeast Asia.” World Development (2002): 265-283.

McCloskey, D.N. . “The Enclosure of Open Fields: Preface to a Study of Its Impact on the Efficiency of English Agriculture of the Eighteenth Century.” Journal of Economic History (1972): 15-35.

McKean, Margaret; Ostrom, Elinor. “Common Property Regimes in the Forest: Just a Relic from the Past?” Unasylva (1995): 3-15.

T. L. Anderson and P.J. Hill. “The Evolution of Property Rights.” Journal of Law and Economics (1975): 163-179.

Thompson, E.P.. Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black Act. New York: Pantheon Books, 1975.