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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- Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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- Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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- Lipton, Michael, 1992. "Economics and anthropology: Grounding models in relationships," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1541-1546, October.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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