Garrett Hardin vs Elinor Ostrom

Garret Hardin became infamous for promulgating his view of commons as ‘a tragedy’. Elinor Ostrom’s painstaking research shows him to be unhelpfully mistaken in his perception.

In 1968, Garrett Hardin published an essay The Tragedy of the Commons, where claimed (in neoliberal fashion) that commons were doomed to be destroyed because all users will ‘rationally’ want to graze one more cow, take more than they previously did.

Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel Prize in 2009 by showing that Hardin was not describing a commons, but something that is unmanaged – actually an unregulated common pool.

Hardin in his ideology just saw the resource and its ‘unowned’ status, and not the community and the de facto governance that organised actual practice. Ostrom exposed the very frequent presence and effectiveness, in actual life, of these latter.

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