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Essay: Garrett Hardin and Elinor Ostrom

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  • Subject area(s): Sociology essays
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  • Published: 15 October 2019*
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  • Words: 805 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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Garrett Hardin presented an evoking conceptualization of the universe’s troubles. He proposed the population problem in a very distinct way. Despite Hardin’s almost convincing argument, Elinor Ostrom, proposes solutions to Hardens perceived troubles of your society. She ineptly explains the common pool and how it has been the solution to the problems Hardin has proposed. In proving his point, Hardin proposes a metaphor, a story almost to how detrimental everything is.

First, he examined the relation of population to resources and came to the conclusion that population must be brought under control before it’s too late. He then analyzed the dynamics that have caused the population to reach the point that it has. From this analysis, he proposed a couple of solutions through Certain parts of his solutions that he formulated, require careful consideration. Hardin argued against the possibility of food production improving through the use of technology. He quoted, “a finite world can support only a finite population.”  Hardin argues that quantitatively, both resources and population cannot increase simultaneously. In order to see progress, the calories available per person must deplete as the population increase. Problem is according to Hardin, we as a society have trouble deciding whether to limit population and choosing between which goods and resources to pursue in a world that cannot provide for every different good. We have left the pick of “the good” all to humans in our capitalistic society. We act as individuals and think that these selfish choices will somehow solve our issues.

In all his arguments, Hardin also presents an argument that it would be in the interest of well-off countries to stop providing foreign aid. His argument in this was that though certain nations may appear poor and in need, they are actually, in fact, the poor, are reproducing at better rates than the more affluent nations.  Statistics and studies showed that affluent nations like the United States had some of the highest numbers and rates in Infant mortality. This meaning that more children were born in a so-called well of nations were dying as compared to the nations that may seem like they require aid. He believed that if we continued to aid foreign countries, resources meant for each individual person in our nation will continue to decrease as the poor nations begin to increased eventually, sooner or later we will all become poor.
 Though Hardin’s argument seemed compelling, Ostrom is was able to not only debunk Hardin’s theories but provide solutions of her own. Ostrom spent decades has documented how various different communities manage common resources long-term period.  She was able to reject the theory that that private property is the only effective method to prevent finite resources from being ruined or depleted. Ostrom’s work challenged the current economic orthodoxy that there are few if any, alternatives to privatization and markets in generating wealth and human well being.

The Tragedy of the Commons presents a scenario where a commonly held land is degraded because everyone in a community is allowed to graze livestock there. This metaphor was popularized by Garrett Hardin and was embraced as key in the growing environmental movement. Ostrom’s research refutes this abstract concept with the actual life experience from countries like Nepal, Kenya, and Guatemala.

Ostrom states,

“When local users of a forest have a long-term perspective, they are more likely to monitor each other’s use of the land, developing rules for behavior.”

Hardin himself later mad revisions to his own view,  stating that what he described was actually the Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons. Ostrom was able to prove that there could be an existence of social control tools that regulate the use of the commons without having to turn to privatizing properties.

Conservatives who supported Hardin, laughed at the slightest possibility of resources being shared in a way that maintains the common good but Ostrom was able to present solutions.  Ostrom quotes,

“What we have ignored is what citizens can do and the importance of real involvement of the people involved.”

She summarized her overall argument and solutions in a set of core principles. The first being that in order for everyone to access the common land respectfully, there has t be an establishment of clearly defined boundaries, meaning a clear understanding of dos and don’t have to be in place. Secondly, there has to be a proportional equivalence between benefits and costs and collective choice arrangements. In addition, there has to a systematized form of monitoring and graduated sanctions. In order for that to work, there would have to be an establishment of quick and fair conflict resolution and Lastly but mainly, an appropriate relationship between the different levels of rule makers so there could be a clear and concise understanding of the established rules and management.

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