Constitutionality: Bottom-up institution building and resource governance
This project further conceptualizes and refines the innovative concept of constitutionality, and is based on a collaboration between CDE and Tobias Haller of the Institute of Social Anthropology (University of Bern). Constitutionality is a new approach for analysing bottom-up institution building processes. Nobel Prize Winner Elinor Ostrom and other scholars showed how common pool resources can be sustainably managed by common property institutions, while others (Ensminger, Acheson, Haller) focused on the role that bargaining power of actors and ideology play in the institution-building process. However, there is little research on how local actors themselves view (i.e. emically) an institution-building process and the impact this has on resource management in retrospective. Based on several case studies (fisheries in Zambia, pasture and forestry in Mali, forestry in the lowlands and highlands of Bolivia, agricultural land and forestry in Indonesia), we analysed self-driven processes that we label constitutionality. Constitutionality is defined as a conscious process of institution building from below, free of top-down imposed processes of democratization, decentralization, and “participation” that are often based on “elite capture”.