VIEIRA, Miguel Said. “Success… for whom? Methodological individualism and power relations in Ostrom’s approach to commons“. The Commons in Latin America: Struggles, Policies and Research. CEDLA / UvA: Amsterdam, 2017.
Meu trabalho aprofundou um tema que abordei inicialmente em meu doutorado (os impactos negativos do individualismo metodológico na abordagem de Elinor Ostrom sobre bens comuns); planejo ampliá-lo e sistematizá-lo em um artigo.
This paper analyses possible drawbacks brought by methodological individualism in Elinor Ostrom’s approach to commons, and their relevance in Latin America. It argues that, while Ostrom’s work has contributed immensely to disprove the narrow-minded view of the homo economicus as a model for human rationality, as well as strengthened many communities’ efforts against both privatization and undue government interference, some of the theoretical underpinnings of that work can also lead to blind spots in the analysis of commons, obscuring issues of power relations and inequalities. The data for the argument comes from a review of Ostrom’s studies on the California groundwater basins, from her PhD up to the recollection of that work in Governing the Commons; its analysis (particularly regarding the case of Hawthorne) shows that, while the IAD framework has many merits, it is not sufficiently well suited to take into account issues of power relations and inequalities, possibly due to its reliance on methodological individualism; because of that, a commons may appear to be successful (under the lens of the IAD) even when enabling an important concentration of power in the hands of corporate actors (vis-a-vis public or community actors). The paper concludes by considering that, while Ostrom was far from dogmatic in her approach, methodological individualism continues to be a foundation in much of the “Bloomington school” of commons studies; and that the blind spots it generates are particularly relevant in Latin American contexts, where inequality and power struggles are integral to the social backdrop commons are set in.