Balancing the Commons in Switzerland : Institutional Transformations and Sustainable Innovations book cover
1st Edition

Balancing the Commons in Switzerland
Institutional Transformations and Sustainable Innovations

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 28, 2021
ISBN 9780367488734
March 28, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
288 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations

SAVE ~ $32.00
was $160.00
USD $128.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Balancing the Commons in Switzerland outlines continuity and change in the management of common-pool resources such as pastures and forests in Switzerland.

The book focusses on the differences and similarities between local institutions (rules and regulations) and forms of commoners’ organisations (civic communities and corporations) which have managed common property for several centuries and have shaped the cultural landscapes of Switzerland. At the core of the book are five case studies from the German, French and Italian speaking regions of Switzerland. Beginning in the late medieval ages and focussing on the transformative periods in the 19th and 20th Century, it traces the internal and external political, economic and societal changes and examines what impact these changes had on commoners. It goes beyond the work of Robert Netting and Elinor Ostrom, who discussed Swiss commons as a unique case of robustness, by analysing how local commoners reacted to, but also shaped changes by adapting and transforming common property institutions. Thus, the volume highlights how institutional changes in the management of the commons on the local level are embedded in the public policies of the respective cantons, and the state, which generates a high heterogeneity and an actual laboratory situation. It shows the very different ways that local collective organisations and their members have followed in order to cope with the loss of value of the commons and the increased workload for maintaining common property management. Providing insightful case studies of commons management, this volume delivers theoretical contributions and lessons to be learned for the commons worldwide.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of the commons, natural resource management and agricultural development.

Table of Contents

Jon Mathieu

1. Ostrom’s legacy on robustness and the ‘Swiss commons lab’: Introductory reflections on change and power in commons studies
Tobias Haller, et al.

Part I Disciplinary approaches and theoretical reflections

2. Transformations of common pastures and woodlands in Switzerland – a historical perspective
Martin Stuber and Rahel Wunderli

3. Integration of the Commons into the Contemporary Institutional Context: A Political Science Perspective
Francois-Xavier Viallon and Stéphane Nahrath

4. Commons and peasant studies: insights from social anthropology, human geography and agrarian economics
Tobias Haller, Karina Liechti and Stefan Mann

Part II Case Studies

5. Korporation Uri: Scopes and challenges of a huge corporation over time (Canton Uri)
Rahel Wunderli

6. Urban commons in Alpine areas: The case of the Bürgergemeinde Chur (Canton Grisons)
Martin Stuber

7. Transformation, diversification, partnerships: the case of the Sarnen commoners’ organisations (Canton Obwalden)
Karina Liechti

8. Weak commons management, strong identity: The case of Val d’Anniviers (Canton Valais)
Francois-Xavier Viallon

9. A fragile balance? The case of pasture and forest management in Olivone (Canton Ticino)
Mark Bertogliati

Part III Synthesis

10. Transformation and diversity – synthesis of the case studies
Tobias Haller, et al.

View More



Tobias Haller is Professor in Social Anthropology and Managing Director of the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland. He is the leading author of The Commons in a Glocal World (Routledge, 2019).

Karina Liechti is a Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Development and Environment CDE and at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland.

Martin Stuber is Senior Scientist at the the Institute of History, University of Bern, Switzerland.

Francois-Xavier Vaillon is a Political Scientist at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Rahel Wunderli is a Postdoctoral assistant at the Institute of History Department of Economic, Social and Environmental History, University of Bern, Switzerland.