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 focuses on the differences and similarities between local institutions (rules and regulations) and forms of commoners’ organisations (corporations of citizens 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 Middle Ages and focusing on the transformative periods in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, 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 at 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 power relations and very different routes 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.

chapter 1|14 pages

Ostrom’s legacy of robustness and the ‘Swiss commons lab’

Introductory reflections on change and power in commons studies
ByTobias Haller, Jean-David Gerber, Karina Liechti, Stéphane Nahrath, Christian Rohr, Martin Stuber, François-Xavier Viallon, Rahel Wunderli
Size: 1.13 MB

part I|46 pages

Disciplinary approaches and theoretical reflections

chapter 2|18 pages

Transformations of common pastures and woodlands in Switzerland: A historical perspective

ByMartin Stuber, Rahel Wunderli
Size: 0.10 MB

chapter 3|10 pages

How do the commons meet the state? A political science perspective

ByFrançois-Xavier Viallon, Stéphane Nahrath
Size: 0.08 MB

chapter 4|16 pages

Commons and peasant studies

Insights from social anthropology, human geography and agrarian economics
ByTobias Haller, Karina Liechti, Stefan Mann
Size: 0.45 MB

part II|214 pages

Case studies

chapter 5|42 pages

Scopes and challenges of a huge corporation over time

The case of the Korporation Uri (Canton Uri)
ByRahel Wunderli
Size: 6.23 MB

chapter 6|42 pages

Urban commons in Alpine areas

The case of the Bürgergemeinde Chur (Canton Grisons)
ByMartin Stuber
Size: 9.80 MB

chapter 7|42 pages

Transformation, diversification, partnerships

The case of the Sarnen commoners’ organisations (Canton Obwalden)
ByKarina Liechti
Size: 7.12 MB

chapter 8|45 pages

Weak commons management, strong identity

The case of Val d’Anniviers (Canton Valais)
ByFrançois-Xavier Viallon
Size: 3.21 MB

chapter 9|41 pages

A fragile balance?

The case of pasture and forest management in Olivone (Canton Ticino)
ByMark Bertogliati
Size: 4.01 MB

part III|26 pages


chapter 10|24 pages

Transformation and diversity

Synthesis of the case studies
ByTobias Haller, Mark Bertogliati, Karina Liechti, Martin Stuber, François-Xavier Viallon, Rahel Wunderli
Size: 0.72 MB