Local Trap

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Filippo Barbera, Nicola Negri, Angelo Salento:

«Community-based» development of natural resources, such as water and forestry, is the key reference point for environmental governance, particularly in the common-pool resources literature (Baland, Platteau 1999; Ostrom et al. 1999). Elinor Ostrom has painstakingly supported the idea that «for thousands of years people have self-organized to manage common-pool resources, and users often do devise long-term, sustainable institutions for governing these resources» (Ostrom et al. 1999, 278). The empiri-cal evidence of successful management of common-pool resources around the world provides support for the self-regulatory effective-ness of «local groups» to develop social norms that limit the use of these collective resources. The emphasis on local community is closely linked to the «communitarian» mechanisms of norms/cooperation-enforcement. Ostrom’s institutional design is accord-ingly based on «group size, cultural homogeneity, social capital or density of social networks, practices of reciprocity and the salience of the resource or lack of exit options for the resource users» (Araral 2014, 13). Subsequent studies have argued that the external validity of Ostrom’s institutional design principles is flawed (Cox et al. 2010, see also Stern 2001). Araral (2014, 16) lists the challenges in applying Ostrom’s design principles to global commons, stating that both global commons and local commons based on non-communitarian settings should require a different set of governance principles. This awareness is not part of those community and commons-based approaches, which often conflate the idea of «community» with that of «local com-munity», and regularly assume that the local scale is better than larger scales, regardless of other factors (Purcell, Brown 2005). This generates the «local trap», namely the idea «that local scale decision-making is inherently more likely to yield outcomes that are socially just or ecologically sustainable than decision-making at other scales» (Purcell, Brown 2005, 280). Two points need to be emphasized here: the first one is the concept of local scale, which should not be regarded as something with fixed properties, but rather as a group of strategies that «are pursued by and benefit social groups with particular social and environmental agendas. There is no reason to believe that it will necessarily empower groups who favour justice and sustainability. It could also empower those who benefit from oppression and environmental exploitation» (ibidem). In this regard, local-scale decision making can be exploited by «extractive» agents who extract resources from the many in favour of the few, instead of generating energy, creativity and entrepreneurship in society (Acemoglu, Robinson 2013; Servillo et al. 2017; DPS 2013). As Acemoglu and Robinson (2013) argue, localities with a history of extractive institutions that generated impoverished regimes have not prospered because marginal voices and innovators have less chance to enter the agenda-setting mechanisms. If localism is not inherently virtuous, the implication is that re-localisation may be necessary but it is not in itself a sufficient principle to support local commons (Collective for the Foundational Economy 2018). Actions oriented to the commons in the perspective of FE are instead more protected from the risks of falling into the local trap for, as we will illustrate (section 5), FE goods and services are inherently trans-scalar. Accordingly, they are organized through networks and branches across populations, localities and regions and – if properly managed in the light of FE – can displace extractive local agents." (https://www.academia.edu/39673506/From_individual_choice_to_collective_voice_Foundational_economy_local_commons_and_citizenship?)


See: Towards a New Vision of Citizenship based on the Foundational Economy of Local Commons

* From choice to collective voice. Foundational economy, local commons and citizenship. by FILIPPO BARBERA, NICOLA NEGRI, ANGELO SALENTO.

URL = https://www.academia.edu/39673506/From_individual_choice_to_collective_voice_Foundational_economy_local_commons_and_citizenship?