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22 SEPTEMBER 2016

Elinor Ostrom and the solution to the tragedy of the commons

Elinor Ostrom's "research concerned the governance of common resources (also known as commons). The commons are natural resources, like land for grazing, fishing areas, forests for timber, water for the irrigation of farmland, and also more intangible resources, like knowledge, for which it is very expensive to control and fence in 'user' consumption. The problem with these types of resources, as shown in 1968 by Garrett Hardin (but Aristotle had already observed a similar phenomenon) is that they are over-exploited, or at least their care and sustainability is overlooked by users. The reason is that people behave opportunistically (like free-riders) and consider the resource they are accessing, without the possibility of being excluded, as a free resource, and they therefore maximize their private benefits but neglect, or collectivize, the costs.

Hardin coined the phrase 'tragedy of the commons' to describe this phenomenon and gave social sciences one of the most evocative metaphors after Adam Smith’s 'invisible hand'. These two metaphors are effective because they capture two essential social situations in marked contrast to one another. When social interactions are guided by an invisible hand, they reconcile individual choice and socially desirable results, whereas in the tragedy of the commons, individuals pursuing their private objectives cause disastrous consequences for themselves and others. The solution to the tragedy of the commons, before the contribution of Ostrom and her studies, was to privatize resources or, in a diametrically opposite view, to form a Leviathan state in order to manage them.

Instead, Ostrom demonstrated that, within communities, rules and institutions of non-market and not resulting from public planning can emerge from the bottom up to ensure a sustainable, shared management of resources, as well as one that is efficient from an economical point of view. Besides the village of Törbel, Ostrom shows examples of common lands in the Japanese villages of Hirano and Nagaike, the huerta irrigation mechanism between Valencia, Murcia and Alicante in Spain, and the zanjera irrigation community in the Philippines. Also, the property in the form of 'vicinale', neighborhoods, typical of regions of Italy like Emilia, the Belluno and the Ticino, are also collective institutions, although not investigated by Ostrom. The argument then has a more modern example if one notices that even the 'Wikipedia community' is a form of successful collective institution of a communal resource (knowledge)."

(Flavio Felice, Massimiliano Vatiero, 27 June 2012)

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TAGS

Adam Smith • American political economist • assets • Belluno • bottom-up organisation • collective institutions • collective interests • common pool resources (CPR) • common propertycommons • communal resource • economic governance • economic science • Elinor Ostrom • Emilia • English Industrial Revolution • exploitationfencing • Flavio Felice • Garrett Hardin • governance of common resources • Hirano • huerta irrigation mechanism • individual choice • invisible hand • Karl Polanyi • land management • Massimiliano Vatiero • Nagaike • natural resourcesopportunism • over-exploitation • political economics • political economist • political economyprivate control • privatisation • privatisation of land • public government • public planning • resource managementsocial interactionssocial situation • socially desirable results • sustainabilitysustainability thinking • Ticino • Torbel • tragedy of the commons • vicinale • Wikipedia • Wikipedia community • zanjera irrigation community

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 NOVEMBER 2013

Virtual girl called 'Sweetie' used to stop webcam child sex tourism

"To show how unrestrained child predators can act but also to show how easy it is to track them down the Dutch child rights organisation put itself in the shoes of a 10–year–old Filipino girl. With an innovative technology the virtual character Sweetie was created to be controlled by Terre des Hommes researchers. From a remote building in Amsterdam the researchers operated in public chat rooms. In a very short period, over 20,000 predators from around the world approached the virtual 10– year–old, asking for webcam sex performances. While the adults interacted with the virtual girl, the researchers gathered information about them through social media to uncover their identities. With this evidence Terre des Hommes Netherlands is pushing all governments to adopt proactive investigation policies, with a world wide petition, starting today."

(Hans Guyt, The Hague, 4 November 2013, Terre des Hommes)

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20133D visualisationAmsterdamavatarbelievabilitybotchat roomchild abuse • child exploitation • child pornographychild protection • child rights • child sex tourism • child victims • developing nationsdigital actorsexploitation • Filipino • girl • Hans Guyt • human-likehyperrealismillegal behaviourinnovative technologylaw enforcementlifelikelolitaNetherlandsonline youth victimisation • perpetrator • Philippines • post-traumatic stress • posting onlinepredatorprotectionpuppetreal-life dollsafeguardingsex crimesex offenders • sex tourism • sexual acts • sexual exploitationsexual fetishsexual slaverysexualised depictions • Sweetie (virtual girl) • synthespian • Terre des Hommes • victimvirtual charactervirtual girlvisual depictionvoyeurismvulnerabilityvulnerable groupsvulnerable peoplewebcam • webcam child sex tourism • webcam sexyoung childrenyoung people

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 NOVEMBER 2013

The x:talk project: a sex worker-led knowledge sharing co-operative

"In early 2006 several activists based in London who are involved in sex worker rights activism, organising within the International Union of Sex Workers in particular, began to conceptualise and organise around the x:talk project–one that would seek to explore and expand the ideas and confidence we have developed in criticising the mainstream human trafficking discourse, drawing on insights we have gained from sex workers', migrant and feminist struggles.

The racist and anti–feminist trafficking rhetoric of 'protection', mainstream anti–trafficking campaigns that reduce women to only passive victims, under the control of organised crime or of cruel men produces and justifies deportation of migrant sex workers and increases the criminalisation and exploitation of workers in the sex industry. It creates divisions between migrants' and sex workers' forms of organisation and resistance.

We found language and communication to be crucial elements to directly challenge and change conditions of work and life, and to come to together and to organise. Communication is in our view central to change. Language is a basic individual and collective power that improves both possibilities to work and possibilities of resistance.

Central to our vision stands the autonomy of all people moving across borders and the dignity of every gender employing their resources in the sex industry. Central to our understanding of gender and social relations is an understanding of sex work as labour. People who sell sex are involved in a labour process in many respects similar to other paid personal services exchanged on market. At the same time we recognise that the ways in which sex work has existed are also deeply interrelated to the ways in which 'female' services, such as caring, domestic, sexual and reproductive activities are supposed to be provided. It is important to consider that the demand for money for sex in a transparent and potentially contractual way is often a break and significant shift in the way women are expected to give these services for no remuneration.

We consider that a feminist analysis and practice is crucial to changing the sex industry. Women represent the majority of workers in the industry and gendered sexualised and reproductive labour have historically constituted a central part in the structures that subordinate and oppress women. The people that have taken the main initiative of this organisation and project are women. Starting from the ground up, in a grass roots way we nevertheless aim to work with the whole industry. Due to the demographics of the workforce in the sex industry, women play a central role in the organisation and are expected to make up a majority of participants in the classes. We/they represent the majority and we/they enjoy the strongest voice at the moment. However issues of gender and transgender difference–at their intersections with racial and sexual issues are taken into account in the development of activities in order to include people from across the industry and from diverse backgrounds.

In contrast to the current mainstream anti–trafficking policies and discourses we work towards the improvement of working conditions in the sex industry; for rights and recognition of workers; the right to change work and not to be forced to stay with the same employer and the right to stay and not to be deported. Our organisation is based on a practice of sex workers self organisation and our projects are primarily built on an activity of networking with those that have already organised similar projects according to these principles."

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TAGS

2006activism • anti-trafficking campaigns • anti-trafficking discourses • anti-trafficking policies • autonomyborders • co-operative • collective power • criminalisation • cruel men • deportation • dignity • domestic services • empowermentexploitation • female services • feminist analysisfeminist perspectivefeminist struggles • forced labour • gender and social relations • gender difference • gendered labour • grass roots • human trafficking • immigrant experience • International Union of Sex Workers • knowledge sharing • labour process • language barrierslanguage learnerslanguage of thingslanguage skillslanguages of legitimationLondon • migrant sex worker • migrant struggles • migrant workers • organised crime • passive victims • personal services • power relationsprostituteprostitutionprotectionracist language • remuneration • reproductive activities • reproductive labour • rights and recognition • safeguarding • safer conditions • sexsex industry • sex work • sex worker • sex worker rights • sex workers • sexual exploitation • sexual issues • sexual slavery • sexualised labour • subordinate womentrafficking • trafficking rhetoric • transgender difference • victimwomenworkforce • working conditions • x:talk project

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
02 SEPTEMBER 2013

Defined Lines: tongue-in-cheek parody of Blurred Lines music video

"A feminist parody version of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines ... by a group of law students from Auckland University, was posted on YouTube on Friday night and had over 300,000 views at 6am this morning."

(TVNZ, 02 September 2013)

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TAGS

2013 • Adelaide Dunn • Auckland Law Revue Girls • bigot • Blurred Lines (2013) • chauvinism • chauvinistic • Chillbox Creative • critical commentarydepictions of womenexploitationfeminist parodyfeminist perspectivehumourlaw student • Marvin Gaye • Miley Cyrus • Milon Tesiram • misogynyMTVMTV Video Music Awardsmusic video • Olivia Lubbock • parodyparody versionplaythingporno-chic • Rich Bryan • Robin Thicke • scantily cladsex crimesexismsexistsexploitation • sexual discrimination • sexualised depictions • sexually explicit content • The Law Revue girls • tongue-in-cheek • TV One • University of AucklandYouTube • Zoe Ellwood

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
10 FEBRUARY 2012

Culture Jamming: University of Bums on Seats

"Welcome to the University of Bums on Seats, where we believe that nobody should be exempt from a university education. As Vice Chancellor here for the past 13 months, I have attempted to revolutionise our educational paradigm to ensure a rich diversity of abilities are represented in our student body.

It is never too late to start your education. Even at this late point in the academic year, we have many vacancies for degree–courses. We pride ourselves on our 'character–over–qualifications' admissions policy which ensures that no–one will be rejected on any grounds except non–payment of fees.

Unlike many conventional universities, our modern, economical approach to teaching is delivered by the latest computerised teaching–aids, graduate assistants, and other budget–conscious methods.

We particularly welcome applications from overseas students, and we are proud to be one of the very few universities which does not require proficiency in English as a pre–requisite to enrol.

If you have ever considered investing in your future by gaining the qualifications you may have missed earlier in life, then now is the time to apply. No questions asked.

We look forward to receiving your tuition fees."

(Prof Alan Dubious)

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admissions • admissions policy • budget-conscious • buy a degreeconventional universitiescritical commentarycritiqueculture jamming • cynical • cynical revenue-gathering exercise • economical approach to teaching • English proficiency • exploitationfakefake university • fees • graduate assistants • humour • investing in your future • no questions asked • online learningparody • qualification • teaching-aids • tuition feesuniversity education • University of Bums on Seats

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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