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Urban Commons

The term ‘commons’, derived from the medieval England legal term ‘common land’, was popularized by Elinor Ostrom (Ostrom, 1990) in the light of studying natural common pool resources, such as pastures and water basins. Charlotte Hess (2008) made a mapping of the rapidly growing research area of ‘new commons’. New commons exemplified but not limited by cultural commons (e.g. public art, music), knowledge commons (e.g. internet, libraries, and education), neighborhood commons (e.g. streets and sidewalks). Hess gives the definition of a commons as follows: “a commons is a resource shared by a group where the resource is vulnerable to enclosure, overuse and social dilemmas. Unlike a public good, it requires management and protection in order to sustain it” (Hess, 2008, p. 37). By this definition, Hess stresses the primary importance of resource governance and its protection from a possible enclosure. The notion of urban commons exemplified by public services, public space (including virtual space) and art (Susser & Tonnelat, 2013).

Some scholars argue that essence of the commons is not a shared resource per se but also, and more importantly, social practice of commoning (Linebaugh, 2008) to describe the social practices used by a group of people in the course of managing shared resources and reclaiming the commons. Commoning is flexible and sensitive social relation between a self-organized community and those aspects of their urban environment (existed or required) that crucial for the community well-being. A commoning practice should be both collective and not a subject of market logic where any resource is commodified off-limits. Scholars highlight the importance of the process of commoning as a claim of the right to the city and accentuate ongoing sociospatial transformation accompanying that process (Harvey, 2014; Susser & Tonnelat, 2013)

urban_commons.txt · Last modified: 2018/03/26 10:51 by admin