Furthering critical institutionalism
International Journal of the Commons
This special issue furthers the study of natural resource management from a critical institutional perspective. Critical institutionalism (CI) is a contemporary body of thought that explores how institutions dynamically mediate relationships between people, natural resources and society. It focuses on the complexity of institutions entwined in everyday social life, their historical formation, the interplay between formal and informal, traditional and modern arrangements, and the power relations
... the power relations that animate them. In such perspectives a social justice lens is often used to scrutinise the outcomes of institutional processes. We argue here that critical institutional approaches have potentially much to offer commons scholarship, particularly through the explanatory power of the concept of bricolage for better understanding institutional change. Critical institutional approaches, gathering momentum over the past 15 years or so, have excited considerable interest but the insights generated from different disciplinary perspectives remain insufficiently synthesised. Analyses emphasising complexity can be relatively illegible to policy-makers, a fact which lessens their reach. This special issue therefore aims to synthesise critical institutional ideas and so to lay the foundation for moving beyond the emergent stage to make meaningful academic and policy impact. In bringing together papers here we define and synthesise key themes of critical institutionalism, outline the concept of institutional bricolage and identity some key challenges facing this school of thought.