American Sociological Association

The Commons: Separating Tragedy and Triumph at a City Park

Littering in a city park is often considered a capricious act of neglect associated with simple carelessness. Using Ostrom's model, Governing the Commons, this research finds that littering is correlated with specific park activities. This article advances our understanding of the Commons and littering by considering the concept of “pollution,” as well as understanding patterns of litter for a communal city. I argue that among the variety of park activities, there are “nonlitter” activities that require little more than the husbandry of local communal governance and there are “litter” activities that require the additional husbandry of the state. However, additional empirical evidence was also discovered that there are instances where the abuse of common resources is socially structured and that there is, on occasion, a normative structure to norm‐violating behavior.


John Cataldi





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