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date: 21 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Parallel to current social, economic, and ecological crises, new institutions for collective action are rapidly developing. In domains where the government withdraws and the market fails, citizen collectives in care, energy, infrastructure, and other areas offer accessible and affordable alternatives at the local level. This chapter explains, through a thousand years of history, what institutions for collective action are, and which factors influence how they function. It analyzes how current developments differ from earlier waves in the development of institutions for collective action. Just like today, periods of growth for this type of institutions were preceded by periods of accelerated development of the free market. These institutions constitute a correction mechanism and can play an important role in society as a third governance model, alongside market and state, although the potential of the commons as a governance model for global resources remains disputed.

Keywords: institutions for collective action, commons, cooperatives, self-governance, historical development of institutions

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