Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Commoning: Creating a New Socio-economic Order? A Grounded Theory Study

Randal Joy Thompson, School of Human and Organizational Development

Interest in the commons, a concept that extends back to antiquity, has peaked in recent years as alarming resource depletion and intellectual property restrictions have caused international concern, while the Internet has increasingly linked people globally, creating a robust platform for common action. Generally conceived of as shared resources, communities that create, use, and/or manage them, social protocols that govern their usage, and a sense of mutuality, commons include natural resources and well as created resources such as knowledge and information. This study examined the commons by employing a grounded theory approach that sought to discover a theory regarding the processes underlying this phenomenon. Grounded theory initiates research by asking the question, “What is going on here?” Commoning emerged as the core variable and hence the grounded theory of the commons. Commoning is a complex social and psychological process that commoners engage in when they are establishing and managing commons. Commoning entails supplanting the market paradigm, based upon maximizing self-interest and assigning value based on price, with a paradigm that maximizes communal well-being. Through commoning, commoners gain a sense that they are the protagonists of their own lives. They gain this sense by forming a communal identity, seeing themselves as part of the ecological system, and taking control of resources that they feel the state and market have failed to effectively manage. In commoning, commoners are driven from their inner purpose and authentic self. Living this way resonates to society as a whole, creating a society that reflects more abundance, harmony, peace, social justice, respect for future generations, and sustainability.

Key words: commons, commoners, commoning, grounded theory, post-capitalism

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