Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, NY 10003, USA
This article is a tribute to Elinor Ostrom. It explores two enduring lessons she taught: a substantive lesson that involves embracing complexity and context, and a methodological lesson that involves embracing a framework-driven approach to systematic, evolutionary learning through various interdisciplinary methodologies, theories, and empirical approaches. First, I discuss Ostrom's work on environmental commons. I illustrate the two lessons through a discussion of the tragedy of the commons. Next, I explain how the two lessons play a significant role in recent efforts to extend Ostrom's work on environmental commons to knowledge/cultural commons. I draw a parallel between the tragedy of the commons allegory and the free-rider allegory, and show how many of the problems Ostrom explored in the environmental context are manifest in the cultural environmental context. I discuss an ongoing research project that follows the path that Ostrom blazed and systematically studies commons in the cultural environment.
(Online publication April 10 2013)
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The author wishes to thank the editor-in-chief, two anonymous referees, Michael Burstein, Daniel Cole, Michael Madison, Al Roundtree, Charles Schweik, Alex Stein, and Katherine Strandburg for their constructive comments and suggestions. The usual disclaimer applies.