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Identity, Commons and Sustainability: An Economic Perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Marco Setti

    () (Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences—Viale Fanin 50, Alma Mater Studiorum—University of Bologna, 40127 Bologna, Italy)

  • Matteo Garuti

    () (Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences—Viale Fanin 50, Alma Mater Studiorum—University of Bologna, 40127 Bologna, Italy)

Abstract

Commons represent a wide, heterogeneous class of resources but its composition is the subject of growing tensions. The question “What is a commons?” has become even more complex while the answer still remains elusive. Current research focuses on two main attributes of commons—nonexclusivity and rivalry—centered on regulatory and operational aspects, conveying the notion of usability. Instead, this study argues that the definition of commons should be derived from their function. It is proposed that identity, in its individual and collective integrated dimensions, is the ultimate goal of commons. Despite the pivotal function that commons can perform, availability of resources is indeed just one of the conditions for human development. Moreover, commons can deploy their identity-oriented functions only if a sustainability transition is pursued. Based on these considerations, the study analyzes the concept of sustainability, and addresses the question “What is to be sustained?” While the capability approach offers a coherent conceptualization of the diversity of individuals—a crucial issue for sustainability—some limitations arise when it is adopted as evaluative space of well-being. This study argues that the assumed notion of identity delivers a broader concept of sustainability and delineates the ultimate goal of sustainability (sustainable identity).

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Setti & Matteo Garuti, 2018. "Identity, Commons and Sustainability: An Economic Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(2), pages 1-12, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:409-:d:130229
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    identity; commons; common-pool resources; sustainability; capability approach; economics; environment; food;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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