Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Property, possession and natural resource management: towards a conceptual clarification

  • SABINE HOFFMANN (a1)

Abstract:

There are few concepts that are more central to natural resource management than those of property and property rights. Given their importance, it might be expected that there would be some consensus in the economic literature about what property and property rights are. However, no such consensus seems to exist. In fact, different authors use the same terms to denote quite disparate concepts and ideas, impeding rather than advancing progress in understanding natural resource management. As but one example, there is hardly a concept that has been as fundamentally misunderstood as that of the commons. That misunderstanding notwithstanding, there is another, less familiar, more common and even more fundamental one: the persistent confusion of possession with property. This article argues that the distinction between possession and property is of particular importance for comprehending the meaning of institutional shifts from one resource management regime to another. It therefore reviews concepts central to natural resource management, by distinguishing between state, private, common property and possession on the one hand and open access on the other.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Bhalla, R. S. (1992), ‘Possession: Common Sense and Law’, Ratio Juris, 5 (1): 7991.
Binswanger, H. C. (1991), Geld und Natur: Das wirtschaftliche Wachstum im Spannungsverhältnis zwischen Ökonomie und Ökologie, Stuttgart, Wien: Weitbrecht.
Binswanger, H. C. (1994), ‘Geld und Wachstumszwang’, in Binswanger, H. C. and Flotow, P. V. (eds.), Geld und Wachstum: Zur Philosophie und Praxis des Geldes, Stuttgart, Wien: Weitbrecht, pp. 81124.
Bromley, D. (1989), Economic Interests and Institutions: The Conceptual Foundations of Public Policy, New York and Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Bromley, D. (1991), Environment and Economy: Property Rights and Public Policy, Cambridge and Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Ciriacy-Wantrup, S. V. and Bishop, R. C. (1985), ‘Common Property as a Concept in Natural Resources Policy’, in Ciriacy-Wantrup, S. V., Bishop, R. C., and Andersen, S. O. (eds.), Natural Resource Economics: Selected Papers, Boulder and London: Westview Press, pp. 2537.
Cole, D. H. and Grossmann, P. Z. (2002), ‘The Meaning of Property Rights: Law vs. Economics?’, Land Economics, 78 (3): 317330.
Commons, J. R. (1995 [1924]), Legal Foundations of Capitalism, New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers.
De Soto, H. (1989 [1986]), The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World, New York: Harper & Row.
De Soto, H. (2000), The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, London: Bantham Press.
Etoga Eily, F. (1971), Sur les chemins du développement: Essai d'histoire des faits économiques au Cameroun, Yaoundé: CEPMAE.
Gerber, J.-F. and Veuthey, S. (2011), ‘Possession versus Property in a Tree Plantation Socioenvironmental Conflict in Southern Cameroon’, Society and Natural Resources, 24: 831848.
Griethuysen, P. V. (2004), ‘Rationalité économique et logique de précaution’, Revue européenne des sciences sociales, 42 (130): 203227.
Griethuysen, P. V. and Nuoffer, F. (2006), ‘A Critical Evolutionary Economic Perspective of Socially Responsible Conservation’, in Oviedo, G. and Griethuysen, P. V. (eds.), Poverty, Equity and Rights in Conservation: Technical Papers and Case Studies, Gland, Geneva: IUCN, IUED, pp. 740.
Hallowell, A. I. (1943), ‘The Nature and Function of Property as a Social Institution’, Journal of Legal and Political Sociology, 1: 115138.
Hardin, G. (1993 [1968]), ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, in Daly, H. E. and Townsend, K. N. (eds.), Valuing the Earth: Economics, Ecology, Ethics, Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 127143.
Harris, J. W. (1986), ‘Ownership of Land in English Law’, in MacCormick, N. and Birks, P. (eds.), The Legal Mind: Essays for Tony Honoré, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 143158.
Harvey, D. (2003), ‘The New Imperialism: On Spatio-Temporal Fixes and Accumulation by Dispossession’, in Panitch, L. and Leys, C. (eds.), The Socialist Register 2004, London: Merlin Press, pp. 6387.
Heinsohn, G. and Steiger, O. (1996), Eigentum, Zins und Geld: Ungelöste Rätsel der Wirtschaftswissenschaft, Marburg, Germany: Metropolis.
Heinsohn, G. and Steiger, O. (2000), ‘The Property Theory of Interest and Money’, in Smithin, J. (ed.), What Is Money, London: Routledge, pp. 67100.
Heinsohn, G. and Steiger, O. (2006), Eigentumsökonomik, Marburg, Germany: Metropolis.
Heinsohn, G. and Steiger, O. (2007), ‘Money, Markets and Property’, in Giacomin, A. and Marcuzzo, M. C. (eds.), Money and Markets: A Doctrinal Approach, New York: Routledge, pp. 5978.
Heinsohn, G. and Steiger, O. (2008), ‘Collateral and Own Capital: The Missing Links in the Theory of the Rate of Interest and Money’, in Steiger, O. (ed.), Property Economics, Marburg, Germany: Metropolis, pp. 181222.
Hodgson, G. M. (2006), ‘What are institutions?’, Journal of Economic Issues, 40 (1): 125.
Hodgson, G. M. (2009), ‘On the Institutional Foundations of Law: The Insufficiency of Custom and Private Ordering’, Journal of Economic Issues, 43 (1): 143166.
Honoré, A. M. (1961), ‘Ownership’, in Guest, A. G. (ed.), Oxford Essays in Jurisprudence, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 107147.
Hoffmann, S. (2005), ‘La Co-gestion Étatique-Communautaire de l'eau à Cochabamba (Bolivie)’, Annuaire suisse de politique de développement: Partenariats public-privé et coopération internationale, 24 (2): 179190 (Geneva: IUED).
Hohfeld, W. N. (1913), ‘Some Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning’, Yale Law Journal, 23: 1659.
Hohfeld, W. N. (1917), ‘Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning’, Yale Law Journal, 26: 710770.
Kapp, K. W. (1950), The Social Costs of Private Enterprise, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Kapp, K. W. (1965), ‘Economic Development in a New Perspective: Existential Minima and Substantive Rationality’, Kyklos, 18 (1): 6477.
Kapp, K. W. (1983 [1970]), ‘Environmental Disruption: General Issues and Methodological Problems’, in Ullmann, J. (ed.), Social Costs, Economic Development and Environmental Disruption, Lanham and London: University Press of America, pp. 3956
Kerekes, C. B. and Williamson, C. R. (2008), ‘Unveiling de Soto's Mystery: Property Rights, Capital Formation and Development’, Journal of Institutional Economics, 4 (3): 299325.
Marx, K. (1975 [until 1848]), Early Writings, Livingstone, R. and Benton, G. (translation), Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Nutzinger, H. G. (2008), ‘The Property Approach of Heinsohn and Steiger: Some Questions from an Institutionalist Viewpoint’, in Steiger, O. (ed.), Property Economics, Marburg, Germany: Metropolis, pp. 6167.
Ostrom, E. (1990), Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Ostrom, E. (2007), ‘Challenges and Growth: The Development of the Interdisciplinary Field of Institutional Analysis’, Journal of Institutional Economics, 3 (3): 239264.
Pryor, F. L. (1982), ‘The Plantation Economy as an Economic System’, Journal of Comparative Economics, 8: 288317.
Steiger, O. (2006), ‘Property Economics versus Institutional Economics: Alternative Foundations of How to Trigger Economic Development’, Journal of Economic Issues, 40 (1): 183208.
Steiger, O. (2008), ‘The Fundamental Flaw in New Institutional Economics: The Missing Distinction between Possession and Property’, in Steiger, O. (ed.), Property Economics, Marburg, Germany: Metropolis, pp. 261271.
Steppacher, R. (1995), L'ingérence Écologique et la Globalisation de l'économie de Marché. Nouveau Cahiers de l'IUED, 3: 99114 (Paris, Geneva: PUF, IUED).
Steppacher, R. (1999), ‘Theoretische Überlegungen: Begriffe und Zusammenhänge’, in Bieri, H., Moser, P., and Steppacher, R. (eds.), Die Landwirtschaft als Chance einer zukunftsfähigen Schweiz: Oder Dauerproblem auf dem Weg zur vollständigen Industrialisiserung der Ernährung?, SVIL-Schrift 135, Zürich: Schweizerische Vereinigung Industrie und Landwirtschaft (SVIL), pp. 938.
Steppacher, R. (2008), ‘Property, Mineral Resources and ‘Sustainable Development’, in Steiger, O. (ed.), Property Rights, Creditor's Money and the Foundations of the Economy, Marburg, Germany: Metropolis, pp. 323354.
Weber, M. (1978 [1922]), Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, Roth, G. and Wittich, C. (eds.), Berkely, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
Xenos, N. (1989), Scarcity and Modernity, London: Routledge.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed