Books on Commons Economics

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We recommend checking the very comprehensive bibliography compiled by David Bollier:

General Books on Commons Economics

  • Aigrain, Philippe with Aigrain, Suzanne. "Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age." Amsterdam University Press, 2012.
  • Anderies, J. and Jannsen, A. Sustaining the Commons. Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, 2013.[1]: " a lucid, logically presented introduction to the key concepts of Ostrom’s research"
  • Barnes, Peter, Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons Berrett-Koehler, 2006).
  • Conaty, Pat and Lewis, Michael. The Resilience Imperative. Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-state Economy: Reclaiming the Commons is one of the five framing elements that make up the spine of the book. The others – resilience, economic democracy, the social solidarity economy and pricing externalities.
  • Helfrich, Silke. The Commons— Prosperity by Sharing (2010, with Christian Siefkes, Rainer Kuhlen, Wolfgang Sachs,
  • Hoeschele, Wolfgang. The Economics of Abundance: A Political Economy of Freedom, Equity, and Sustainability. Gower Publishing, 2010
  • McMurtry, John, Unequal Freedoms, Toronto: Garamond (1998) (introduces the concept of Civil Commons
  • Rowe, Jonathan, Our Common Wealth: The Hidden Economy That Makes Everything Else Work (Berrett-Koehler, 2013).
  • Schroyer, Trent, Beyond Western Economics: Remembering Other Economic Cultures (New York, NY: Routledge, 2009).

General books on the commons:

Walljasper, Jay. All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons.

Related Heterodox Alternative Economics

  • Arnsperger, Christian. Full-Spectrum Economics. Christian Arnsperger. Routledge, 2010: "Once the external and internal sides of the "We" and the "I" are all taken into account, economics needs to be re-thought almost completely and made into a highly pluralistic discipline."
  • Daly, H., and Cobb, J.B., 1990. For the Common Good: redirecting the economy towards community, the environment and a sustainable future. London: Green Print.
  • Gibson-Graham, J.-K. (2006), A Postcapitalist Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).

Other Languages




Commons Governance

  • Bromley, D., and Feeny, D. (eds) (1992), Making the Commons Work: Theory, Practice and Policy (San Francisco: ICS press).
  • Ostrom, E. (1990), Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Commons Property

  • Alexander, Gregory S. Commodity and Propriety: Competing Visions of Property in American Legal Thought, 1776-1970 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).
  • Baslar, Kemal. The Concept of the Common Heritage of Mankind in International Law (Developments in International Law, Vol 30). Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1997
  • Freyfogle, Eric T., The Land We Share: Private Property and the Common Good (Island Press, 2003).
  • Heller, Michael,The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation and Costs Lives (Basic Books, 2008).
  • Hyde, Lewis, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (Vintage Books, 1979).
    • Common as Air: Revolution, Imagination and Ownership (Farrar Strauss, 2010).
  • Penalver, Eduardo Moises and Sonia K. Katyal, Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2010).
  • Rose, Carol M., Property and Persuasion: Essays on the History, Theory and Rhetoric of Ownership (Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1994).
  • Singer, Joseph William, Entitlement: The Paradoxes of Property (Yale University Press, 2000).
  • Stevenson, Glenn, Common Property Economics (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

See also, focusing on 'digital property':

  • Ghosh, Rishab Aiyer, CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy (MIT Press, 2005).
  • McSherry, Corynne, Who Owns Academic Work? Battling for Control over Intellectual Property (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001).
  • Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity (New York, NY: New York University Press, 2001).

Focusing on natural resources:

  • Barlow, Maude, Blue Gold: The Global Water Crisis and the Commodification of the World’s Water [report], (San Francisco, Calif.: International Forum on Globalization, 1999).
  • Barnes, Peter, Who Owns the Sky? Our Common Assets and the Future of Capitalism (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2001).
  • Mayer, Carl J. and George A. Riley, Public Domain, Private Dominion: A History of Public Mineral Policy in America (San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1985).

Special Topics

On Abundance and Scarcity

  • Economic Abundance: An Introduction. By William M. Dugger and James T. Peach.
  • Ivan Illich. Toward a History of Needs. (1978) : focuses on "the sociogenesis of needs"; brings a historical perspective to the demand side of the scarcity equation.
  • Michael Perelman: Marx, Malthus, and the Concept of Natural Resource Scarcity (1979).
  • Nicholas Xenos's Scarcity and Modernity (1989).
  • The Limits to Scarcity: Contesting the Politics of Allocation, edited by Lyla Mehta

On Enclosures

  • Alperovitz, Gar and Lew Daly, Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance (New Press, 2008).
  • Bollier, D. (2003), Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth (New York: Routledge).
  • Nature for sale. Commons versus Commodities. by giovanna ricoveri. Pluto, 2012: "Nature for Sale uncovers the rich heritage of common ownership which existed before the dominance of capitalist property relations. Giovanna Ricoveri argues that the subsistence commons of the past can be reinvented today to provide an alternative to the current destructive economic orde

Politics and Movements

  • Bollier, David. "Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own" New Press, 2009, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license at
  • Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth (Harvard University Press, 2009).
  • Nomini, Donald, editor, The Global Idea of ‘the Commons’ (New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2007).
  • Reid, Herbert and Betsy Taylor, Recovering the Commons: Democracy, Place and Global Justice (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2010).

Relational Economics

  • Reciprocity, Altruism and Civil Society. By Luigi Bruni: "Bruni's historical-methodological analysis of reciprocity is a way of examining the interface between political economy and the issue of sociality, generally characterized by 'two hundred years of solitude' of the homo economicus." [5]


  • The Ethical Economy. Rebuilding Value After the Crisis. By Adam Arvidsson and Nicolai Peitersen. Columbia University Press, 2013

Special Resource-Specific Topics


  • Barnes, P. (2001), Who Owns the Sky? Our Common Assets and the Future of Capitalism (Washington, DC: Island Press).

Genome and Life

  • The Common Thread. By John Sulston: a nuanced defense of treating knowledge of the genome as a commons.
  • Shiva, Vandana, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge (Boston, Mass.: South End Press, 1997).
  • Steinberg, Theodore, Slide Mountain, or the Folly of Owning Nature (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995).
  • Waldby, Catherine and Robert Mitchell, Tissue Economies: Blood, Ogans andf Cell Lines in Late Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2006).


  • Lessig, L. (2001), The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World (New York: Random House).

Money, Banking and Finance

  • Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free (Revised and Updated) By Ellen Hodgson Brown. [6]


Public Infrastructures

  • Global Auction of Public Assets: Public sector alternatives to the infrastructure market & Public Private Partnerships. by Dexter Whitfield. Spokesman Books, 2010. [7]: "demonstrates why new public investment priorities are needed with radical changes in global financial markets and the abandonment of the Public Private Partnership model."


  • Bakker, K. (2003), An Uncooperative Commodity: Privatizing Water in England and Wales (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop Corporate Theft of the World’s Water. By Maude Barlow.the Water Commons