Thesis: The theory of the commons

Sample Thesis Paper

It is generally believed that communal resources will be depleted resulting eventually in ‘the tragedy of the commons’, where people are encouraged to compete with others for access to a resource in the absence of any external regulation. A simple model in which casual relationships between land property and resource destruction are discussed illogically, disregarding the existence of factors that may severely limit access to a communal resource to only a number of specified groups.

The theory of the commons asserts that social restrictions within communities lead to a ‘cooperative game’; consequently, the sustainability of the resource is ensured. This is in contrast to the condition of a ‘non-cooperative game’, which leads to the tragedy of the commons. However, the commons theory is incomplete in its prediction of the tragedy of the commons, in that it only considers the outcome of resource use in the absence of ‘manifest customs’ or social restrictions. Rather, it is necessary to consider the role of latent customs, such as behavior based on morality and ethics embedded within the society, as well as those restrictions affecting resource use that are at work within a community.

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