Isha Ray
Economic Development and Cultural Change, 54: 677 – 694
Publication year: 2006

The premise of this article is that outcomes of economic models and process analyses of anthropology are both essential for understanding social phenomena, including those surrounding the commons. An explanation of any model outcome is invariably about process and structure—the outcomes of several models are compatible with many different causal processes. Anthropologists also pay equal attention to exclusions and inclusions, to the said as well as the unsaid. In that spirit, one must ask if models of resource management that are silent on, for example, influence or the desire for dignity implicitly suggest that these factors are less important to cooperation than economic and ecological factors. This article argues that policy advice has to take into account the explicit findings of a model as well as its silences. Finally, anthropologists are critical of economic models for their simplicity and allegedly obvious outcomes. But models of common‐pool resources can and do provide anthropologists with points of departure for their own research. Additionally, models can surprise us with counterintuitive results, especially with respect to emergent phenomena. Such results should be an invitation to anthropologists to investigate new social processes that were hitherto not anticipated.