Commons, The

The commons refers to an open-access resource, usually land, which is available for community use. In urban areas, it is often public property, such as Boston Commons or New York’s Central Park, where access is unrestricted even for noncitizens. In rural areas, the eligible commoners are generally well-defined. In particular, its agricultural manifestation refers to uncultivated or harvested land with open access for grazing; the gathering of wood, leaves, and bracken; and the digging of peat, leading to the notion of common pool resource (CPR).

The precise difference between these two notions of the commons can be seen with the aid of Figure 1, which gives the standard economic taxonomy of goods according to the properties of excludability and rivalry. A good is excludable if it ...

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