Collective action in common-pool resource management: The contribution of a social constructivist perspective to existing theory

Nathalie A. Steins*, Victoria M. Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The question of how to organize the sustainable exploitation of common-pool resources (CPRs) is an important issue on a global environmental agenda. We argue that the current approach to collective action in CPR management has a number of shortcomings related to (1) the focus on single - use CPRs and (2) the formulation of a priori design principles for successful collective action, which hinders rather than facilitates CPR research and policies. We propose a social constructivist perspective for the study of CPRs, and discuss its implications for research and policy programs. This approach studies the CPR as an entity within a wider external environment, focusing on resource users’ motivations for certain action strategies. The outcome of collective management is considered to be the result of interactions between stakeholders and nonhuman entities, which depends on the way social actors ’socially construct’ their everyday reality. A case study of Irish fishermen, who felt alienated from their fishery as a result of the expansion of commercial finfish farms, and who created common property rights to secure access to the fishery, forms the empirical basis for this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-557
Number of pages19
JournalSociety & Natural Resources
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Common-Pool resources
  • Design principles
  • Fisheries
  • Management
  • Social constructivism

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