Memoriam for Lin Ostrom

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25 Responses

  1. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Minor correction: Greencastle is not in Marion County. According to Wiki, in addition to Speedway, there are three other Marion County municipalities that were not part of the government consolidation; Beech Grove, Lawrence and Southport. It doesn’t change the argument any, but I regret the rather stupid error.Report

  2. A fantastic post. Nothing really to add to it.Report

  3. Avatar Koz says:

    “She focused so intensively on the design of institutions (sets of rules and procedures) for managing commons that those who have only a passing familiarity and haven’t read closely seem to have taken away only the message that a set of rules for commons management is necessary, and they look for “the” set of rules, which they expect to be able to implement from the top-down for any commons. But that misses the thrust of her research almost entirely.”

    This is a great point. This actually meshes in an interesting way with a recent piece from James Fallows:

    There are rules, and there are norms. Libs (and libertarians) like to make a fetish of running over norms as though they weren’t there, and in the process destroy our social capital.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Koz says:

      …yes, going from a Fallows piece which speaks of how Conservatives are running rough shod over norms and making it into a post about how liberals and libertarians hate norms and destroy social capital…

      How very counter-intuitive.Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Well yeah, Fallows is wrong on that point of course. And in fact, if in fact PPACA goes, that will be a very important consequence. James Fallows, Dahlia Lithwick and the juicebox mafia do not constitute a norm of society. Or more precisely, they are a norm only unto themselves. But PPACA itself is a violation of the underlying premises of our polity. In fact calling them norms understates the matter, really.

        He’s also wrong about Bush v Gore in this context, which depending on how this case goes we’ll probably hear more about. Gore didn’t follow the norms in which he should have given up the ghost long before he did, he played out the string until the bitter end at which point he was forced to follow the rules.Report

    • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to Koz says:

      Interesting that you would link to the Fallows piece, which is about conservative disregard for norms.

      Nevertheless, I think there is some truth in what you say: liberals have been immodest in changing social norms, and we have had some significant examples, in our lifetimes, if unintended consequences.

      That is part of the reason that I believe that the tension liberals and conservatives has been instrumental in generating and constraining change–conservatives are traditionally over-reverent of norms, and liberals cavalier.Report

  4. Avatar Rod says:

    Just by coincidence I caught a reference to Lin Ostrom in a segment of “On Being,” a show on NPR by Krista Tippett. The show was about evolutionary biologist David Sloan’s project in Binghamton, NY. Apparently Lin Ostrom was crucial to designing a high school program for at-risk youth there.

    The overlap with her work on the commons seems to be in the make-up of successful local institutions. Basically how to get everyone to buy in and participate to make it all happen.

    Interesting stuff. The world has lost a truly great mind and great human being.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Because I am selfish (and drunk), this makes me think about the post I might someday write about my particular mentor. (Who, if I read my memories correctly, didn’t particularly feel any particular fondness for me.)

    I think about him dying, and his children, and his wife, and I think about my wife, and my cats (of all things), and I think about who I would be like if I didn’t have him to kick my ass in the mid-to-late 90’s.

    I’d be someone else, I tell you that. I’d be willing to bet that I’d be someone worse. As such, I read posts like these and put them in the only content available to me and feel a regret that makes me feel just this side of cracked. I’m sorry for your loss. She sounds like an awesome person to have kicked your ass from time to time. I wish I had someone like that in my life to whom I was not married. I am sorry that someone like this is no longer in your life.

    I wish that this world were not this way.Report

  6. Avatar Roger says:

    Thanks James. I think she would appreciate that we learned while we paid our respects. I read it twice, once on each site.Report

  7. Avatar Will H. says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, James.
    But I’m happy that you would have known her so well, and that she had such an impact on you.

    And thank you for explaining her ideas in simple terms.
    I’m unfamiliar with her work, but now I think I have a fair overview.Report

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