Ostrom’s Law: Property in the Commons

Elinor Ostrom’s work has immeasurably enhanced legal scholars’understanding of property. Although the richness of these contributions cannotbe distilled into a single thesis, their flavor can be captured in a maxim I call Ostrom’s Law: A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory

.Ostrom’s scholarship challenges the conventional wisdom by examininghow people interact over resources on the ground – an approach that enables herto identify recurring institutional features associated with long-term success.

This essay Ostrom’s Law: Property in the Commons (International Journal of the Commons,, 2011) by Lee Anne Fennell (University of Chicago Law School)traces some of the ways that Ostrom’s focus on situated examples hasadvanced interdisciplinary dialogue about property as a legal institution and as a human invention for solving practical problems, highlighting the attention to detail that characterizes Ostrom’s methodology and examines how

Ostrom’s scholarship yields insights for, and employs insights from, property theory. In addition it considers the question of scale, an important focal point of Ostrom’s work, and one that carries profound implications for law. Eventually common property looks like a variety of many types of property rights..

This paper was published few months before Ostrom’s death.

Max Falque