Analysis Of The Tragedy Of The Commons As A “Tragedy” Or An Opportunity

Table of Contents

A tragedy is caused by the overuse of commons

A missed opportunity is created by the overuse of commons

There are many options for averting tragedy

In summary

Garrett Hardin (1968) described the tragedy of commons as an individual who overconsumes limited resources in pursuit of maximum gain. This results in unsustainability or destruction of commonly consumed resource. Hardin (1968), demonstrated that this concept is reoccurring consistently under different circumstances. The purpose of this review is to demonstrate how this concept has changed over time and space.

A tragedy is caused by overuse of commons. This was evident after reviewing many papers. This idea was illustrated by the destruction of land due to increased herdsmen in England (Hardin 1968; Crowe699). The concept can be extended to a notion reviewed by Buchak (2016). FOMO (fear of missing out) refers to an investment that is not adequately researched. This was observed in England pastures where increasing herds by communal farmers resulted in degradation of the land during the 19th century (Hardin 1968; Crowe 1969). Rankin (2007) found that when a “tragedy” occurs in a population that exploits a shared resource, it promotes competition and individualism which favors the population. For example, plants compete for sunlight, which in turn promotes their survival. Hawkshaw (2012) found that the concept is frequently misused for its detrimental impact on the audience. Hawkshaw used the example of papers that highlight overexploitation in open waters fisheries. These papers usually focus on first countries. However, this paper also highlighted how Hardin’s argument that common resources are only available locally.

Possible solutions to ending tragedyDe Young & Kaplan (1988) said that solutions needed to prevent tragedy must benefit both humans and the resources available to them. Feeny (1990) discussed the possible solutions Hardin suggested and found that common property rules allowed for effective sustainability.

ConclusionThis review showed that Hardin’s concept was continually being interpreted in terms human influence. However, today humans have developed management strategies to stop resource depletion using rules and regulations. The theory was not based on biology, and this is further evidence of his ineffectiveness.


  • paulwallace

    Paul Wallace is a 44-year-old anthropology professor and blogger. He has been writing about anthropology and other topics for over a decade. He has also taught anthropology at the college level for over a decade.

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