Symposium on Anthropologists' Views on Common Resources: Methodological Approaches to the Question of the Commons
In this essay we argue that the key barriers to interdisciplinary work between economists and anthropologists are differences of methodology and epistemology--in what the two disciplines consider important to explain and how they evaluate the criteria for a good explanation. The essay is an introduction to three articles, on economics, anthropology, and the question of the commons, that illustrate some of these differences and that suggest both the potential and the pitfalls of trying to bridge these methodological gaps. Our goal is not somehow to resolve the differences. Rather, we are motivated by the belief that understanding what is important to the other discipline, and seeing the differences in the light of that understanding, is important for interdisciplinary work and for respectful conversation. We have highlighted three dichotomies that are emblematic of some of these differences: autonomy versus embeddedness, outcomes versus processes, and parsimony versus complexity. We hope that our discussion leads economists and anthropologists to reexamine the assumptions and modes of analysis that prevail within the disciplines and to open up new conversations in new directions.
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References listed on IDEAS
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- Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
- Lipton, Michael, 1992. "Economics and anthropology: Grounding models in relationships," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1541-1546, October.
- Elinor Ostrom & Roy Gardner, 1993. "Coping with Asymmetries in the Commons: Self-Governing Irrigation Systems Can Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 93-112, Fall.
- Ray, Isha & Williams, Jeffrey, 2002. "Locational asymmetry and the potential for cooperation on a canal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 129-155, February.
- Basu, Kaushik, 2003.
"Prelude to Political Economy: A Study of the Social and Political Foundations of Economics,"
Oxford University Press, number 9780199261857, April.
- Basu, Kaushik, 2000. "Prelude to Political Economy: A Study of the Social and Political Foundations of Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296713, April.
- Paul Seabright, 1993. "Managing Local Commons: Theoretical Issues in Incentive Design," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 113-134, Fall.
- Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
- M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
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