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Governing the commons in Mexico's Mixteca Alta: Linking Ostrom's design principles and comunalidad

Matthew Lorenzen, Quetzalcóatl Orozco-Ramírez, Rosario Ramírez-Santiago and Gustavo G. Garza

Forest Policy and Economics, 2022, vol. 145, issue C

Abstract: Elinor Ostrom demonstrated the inadequacy of the “tragedy of the commons” thesis, according to which natural resources are depleted in common-property systems because individuals have few incentives to limit their consumption, leading to the idea that privatization or government intervention are needed. Ostrom showed that the tragedy of the commons can be avoided by the users of a common-pool resource themselves through self-organized and self-governed arrangements. She also proposed a series of “design principles” that would favor a successful governance of common-pool resources. In this paper, we use Ostrom's design principles as a framework to study the governance of wooded areas and grazing lands in 10 communities of Mexico's Mixteca Alta region. Based on interviews with local authorities, we corroborate that Ostrom's design principles are key factors that help explain a successful governance of common-pool resources. Furthermore, we argue that this success is also rooted in the characteristics of local governance systems, which are based on indigenous uses and customs and an ethos of communality (comunalidad), and have been formalized by the Mexican State. By showing the links between Ostrom's design principles and comunalidad, we highlight the importance of taking into consideration the local context and social capital to explain the successful governance of common-pool resources.

Keywords: Common-pool resources; Governance; Uses and customs; Agrarian community; Oaxaca (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2022.102862

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