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The Drama of the Commons PART III CROSS-SCALE LINKAGES AND DYNAMIC INTERACTIONS The dramatic aspects of the commons stand out in the two chapters that make up Part III. Each chapter addresses increasingly crucial issues of cross-scale linkages and dynamic interactions among existing and emergent institutions at the local, national, and international levels. The essence of drama, both as a situation or a series of events involving intense conflict of forces and as stories told through action and dialogue, is embodied in the issues brought to light by Young and Berkes in their respective chapters. Together, these chapters also function as a bridge between earlier chapters in this volume that center on individuals or individual institutions and the following section that focuses on new and emerging issues in research involving common-pool resources and common property management regimes. Young’s and Berkes’ chapters also fore-shadow several theoretical, methodological, and practical challenges presented in the concluding chapter of this volume. In the current era of economic and political globalization, the issues addressed by Young and Berkes are bound to take on increased importance as new institutions emerge to promote and limit diverse globalizing processes, and as these emergent institutions change and interact in new local, national, international, and transnational networks. These two chapters complement each other in important ways. Although Young’s paper (Chapter 8) focuses primarily (but not exclusively) on national through global linkages, Berkes’ chapter (Chapter 9) is written from the bottom up, that is, it is grounded in local institutions and the ways in which these institutions have been affected by (and affect) higher level institutions at the national and international levels. Young clearly shows that in order to understand the diverse and multilevel institutions concerned with the management of common-pool resources, these institutions must be situated within their larger biophysical and social contexts
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The Drama of the Commons and examined in interaction with each other. He maintains that such institutions constantly interact with one another both horizontally (i.e., at the same scale or level of social organization) and vertically (i.e., across scales, from the local through the national and international levels). Young presents a preliminary taxonomy of such interactions in 2 × 2 matrix form, which he titles “types of institutional interplay.” One dimension of the classification is separated into “functional” and “political” interplay, while the other dimension is divided into “horizontal” and “vertical” interplay. Young’s analysis is concerned primarily with vertical, functional interplay among local, national, and international institutions, but as is pointed out in the concluding chapter of this volume, horizontal interactions are becoming increasingly important in the current global context. Young specifically examines vertical interplay in two distinct areas—terrestrial and marine ecosystems—and the contending positions of national and local institutions and the relationships between international regimes and individual nation states. There is great drama here stemming from the high number of recurring conflicts, clashes, and negotiations between/among actors at various scales or levels of social organization. Compounding the complexity of the interplay between and among these actors is the relative symmetry or asymmetry in the power they hold. Between national and local actors, clashes frequently involve the counterclaims of national governments to what is classified as “public property” and of local actors to what are perceived as common-pool resources. Between international and national organizations, conflicts can emanate from many factors, including a “bad fit” between international agreements and the capacity, compatibility, and competence of national organizations to implement these agreements. Young concludes with the hopeful suggestion that a greater understanding of the dynamics of institutional interplay can be used to design and revamp institutions in order to better ameliorate large-scale, negative environmental impacts. Berkes’ chapter grows out of his decades-long empirical research on local institutions that are concerned with managing common-pool resources. His chapter adds local specificity to the concerns voiced by Young. Berkes delineates a number of cross-scale institutional forms and their effectiveness in being able to link levels of institutions. He begins with a review of the positive and negative effects of higher level institutions on local institutions as a way of demonstrating the importance of examining multiscale institutions and processes. These include impacts due to the centralization of decision making, to shifts in systems of knowledge, to colonization and decolonization, to nationalization of resources, to increased participation in markets, and to the implementation of development policies. Berkes then goes on to delineate a variety of institutional forms that show some promise to facilitate effective cross-scale interactions. Among these are the diverse forms categorized under the umbrella term, “co-management,” multistakeholder bodies, development/empowerment/co-management organizations, citizen science, policy communities, and social movement networks. Berkes is
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The Drama of the Commons careful to point out the importance of expanding analysis beyond the institutional form per se to include an examination of the relevant processes of institutional change. Finally, Berkes proposes to extend the direction of research on the commons through the use of the adaptive management approach (the management equivalent of “learning by doing”) and the concept of resilience (i.e., the ability of a system to absorb perturbations). These, he believes, provide a meaningful way to integrate social and natural systems and facilitate movement toward a theory of cross-scale institutional linkages.
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