Sunday, November 22, 2009

Think about for the Day

In the United States today, democracy means that most people have essentially zero political power, and a relative handful of people have almost unimaginable power. The central point of Unchecked and Unbalanced is to call attention to the extreme political inequality that has emerged in the United States, particularly over the past fifty years.

-Arnold Kling

Ancient Wisdom and Modern Solutions

Ancient Wisdom and Modern Solutions

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Elinor Ostrum in South Asia

In the south Asian context, the key contribution by Elinor Ostrom, along with other scholars (Shivakoti and Ostrom 2002) has been to provide effective empirical understanding of the performance of different types of irrigation institutional arrangements, along with a theoretical understanding of how these systems work. She demonstrated the importance of involving farmer-users in the design and management of irrigation systems for successful local resource management policies in Nepal. Work in Asia had amply demonstrated that large, centralised and essentially top-down government management systems tended to underperform, with lower rates of return on investment than systems where incentives to engineers were aligned to those of local farmer-users with their active participation (Wade 1982; Lam 1995; Ostrom 2002). Several Indian scholars have been inspired by Ostrom’s work to study issues of collective action and governance of common property resources, and to search for alternative frameworks for understanding how best to manage such resources which are often vital to the very existence of rural livelihoods in India. A large body of literature exists in India on the contributions of common property resources or CPRs as they are commonly labelled. The National Sample Survey too devoted a special round (54th round) to the de jure and de facto existence and contributions of CPRs in India, particularly in terms of their provisioning services such as fuel-wood, fodder and non-timber forest products from forests. Her work and that following hers in south Asia and elsewhere has found that institutions for collective action can emerge in rural societies characterised by inequality, prior history and poor implementation of centrally determined legal structures. Village society was often able to accept some amount of inequality, overlook prior history and agree on common norms of behaviour to solve the problems of the commons.

Several scholars from south Asia benefited from visiting the “Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis”, which Ostrom established in 1973, along with her husband Vincent, a political scientist at the Indiana University Bloomington. Over time, the Workshop has turned out to be an extraordinary forum for productive deliberations from evolving associations of students and professors thereby producing a wealth of theory, empirical studies and experiments at the interface of political economy, social anthropology, economics, political science, and policy studies thereby further enriching the interdisciplinary discourse of collective action. Quite a few of the research students of Ostrom have visited Indian institutes (Institute of Economic Growth (IEG) in Delhi, being one of the prominent ones) and have worked with Indian scholars, thereby resulting in further exchanges. Ostrom herself has visited academic institutions in India a few times, the most recent visit being at the IEG in October 2008, providing the researchers the intellectual space to discuss and debate design issues in moving from models of governance of local to global commons.

Source: EPW


Elinor Ostrom and the Future of Economics
Vincent and Elinor Ostrom and public ownership of natural resources

Podcast: Elinor Ostrom Checks In
A Case Study for Elinor Ostrom's 2009 Nobel Speech?

The Significance of Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel

Books vs Articles: The Flaying of Elinor Ostrom;
Her important book that was key to her prize, Governing the Commons, 1990, has been riduculed because presumably unlike an article in the AER, it did not go through a "peer review" process

Elinor Ostrom on the Market, the State, and the Third Sector

The Ostrom Nobel

An institutional economics prize

Ostrom and Williamson get the Riksbank

What this Nobel prize means
Rethinking Institutional Analysis: Interviews with Vincent and Elinor Ostrom

Elinor Ostrom and the well-governed commons

Elinor Ostrom - Nobel Laureate 2009
Ostrom on institutions: complex solutions can spontaneously emerge

Reality bites
Congratulations to Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson;
Congratulations go out to Elinor Ostrom, co-author of The Samaritan’s Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid (OUP, 2005) and Oliver Williamson, author of The Mechanisms of Governance (OUP, 1999), Organization Theory: From Chester Barnard to the Present and Beyond, 2nd Edition (OUP, 1995), and The Nature of the Firm: Origins, Evolution, and Development (OUP, 1993).

See the world like Elinor Ostrom
To see the world more like Elinor Ostrom is to be guided less by ideology and more by the contours of the situation — to use the right institutional tool for the job. “[N]ational governments,” Ostrom tells us, “are too small to govern the global commons and too big to handle smaller scale problems.”

Skyhooks versus Cranes: The Nobel Prize for Elinor Ostrom;
To understand BOTH why we don’t need police officers in some cases AND why police officers don’t follow the rules in other cases, we have to expand models of human preferences to include a contingent taste for punishing others. In reaching this conclusion, she arrived at a point similar to that reached by Avner Greif (whom the Nobel committee correctly cites.)

Princeton’s Dixit Discusses Nobel for Ostrom, Williamson: Audio

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lévi-Strauss is dead

A powerful thinker, Mr. Lévi-Strauss, in studying the mythologies of primitive tribes, transformed the way the 20th century came to understand civilization itself. Tribal mythologies, he argued, display remarkably subtle systems of logic, showing rational mental qualities as sophisticated as those of Western societies.

Mr. Lévi-Strauss rejected the idea that differences between societies were of no consequence, but he focused on the common aspects of humanity’s attempts to understand the world. He became the premier representative of “structuralism,” a school of thought in which universal “structures” were believed to underlie all human activity, giving shape to seemingly disparate cultures and creations.

His work was a profound influence even on his critics, of whom there were many. There has been no comparable successor to him in France. And his writing — a mixture of the pedantic and the poetic, full of daring juxtapositions, intricate argument and elaborate metaphors — resembles little that had come before in anthropology.

...With the fading of myth’s power in the modern West, he also suggested that music had taken on myth’s function. Music, he argued, had the ability to suggest, with primal narrative power, the conflicting forces and ideas that lie at the foundation of society.

But Mr. Lévi-Strauss rejected Rousseau’s idea that humankind’s problems derive from society’s distortions of nature. In his view, there is no alternative to such distortions. Each society must shape itself out of nature’s raw material, he believed, with law and reason as the essential tools. This application of reason, he argued, created universals that could be found across all cultures and times. He became known as a structuralist because of his conviction that a structural unity underlies all of humanity’s mythmaking, and he showed how those universal motifs played out in societies, even in the ways a village was laid out.

For Mr. Lévi-Strauss, every culture’s mythology was built around oppositions: hot and cold, raw and cooked, animal and human. And it is through these opposing “binary” concepts, he said, that humanity makes sense of the world.

-Claude Lévi-Strauss, 100, Dies; Altered Western Views of the ‘Primitive’