Beyond the Tragedy of the Commons.

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Date

2009

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Abstract

To move beyond Hardin’s tragedy of the commons, it is fundamental to avoid falling into either of two analytical and policy traps: (1) deriving and recommending “panaceas” or (2) asserting “my case is unique.” We can move beyond both traps by self-consciously building diagnostic theory to help unpack and understand the complex interrelationship between social and biophysical factors at different levels of analysis. We need to look for commonalities and differences across studies. This understanding will be augmented if the rich detail produced from case studies is used together with theory to find patterned structures among cases. In this paper, we briefly illustrate important steps of how we can go about diagnosing the emergence and sustainability of self-organization in the fishing context of the Gulf of California, Mexico. By doing so, we are able to move away from the universality proposed by Hardin and understand how two out of three fisheries were able to successfully self-organize, and why one of them continues to be robust over time.

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