The commons in transition: Agrarian and environmental change in Central and Eastern Europe

T. Sikor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyzes institutional dynamics surrounding common-pool resources in postsocialist Central and Eastern Europe. It is conceived in close conjunction with the case studies by Penov, Schleyer, and Wasilewski and Krukowski (this issue). The purpose of this paper is to frame the individual case inquiries, compare their findings, and relate those to broader agrarian and environmental changes in the region. The case studies report a broad shift in resource governance from the previously dominant legal and administrative state hierarchies towards markets. In addition, state power has moved from central towards local authorities. The waning and decentralization of state power has caused the emergence of significant gaps between property legislation and rights-in-practice, which have been particularly stark in fragmented political systems. The discrepancy between legal texts and rights-in-practice leads to the exclusion of wider interests in favor of individual interests in the management of common-pool resources, resulting in resource deterioration and dwindling resource stocks. Thus, the comparative assessment suggests a tentative framework for understanding the effects of postsocialist transformations on governance of the commons and environmental change in Central and Eastern Europe. Its findings indicate an additional dimension to the diversity and distributive conflicts characterizing postsocialist privatization: the distribution of various rights to a resource among different actors. The findings also suggest the need for postsocialist states to take an active role in the governance of common-pool resources, particularly in the enforcement of legal rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-280
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2004

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