Elinor Ostrom has devoted much of her career to understanding the conditions under which people have incentives to conserve or over-exploit common-pool resources (e.g., oceans, air, irrigation, unowned forests and grassland). While a growing number of anthropologists have taken an interest in this critically important topic, her work is not well known to many anthropologists. This paper describes three different aspects of Ostrom’s work which should be of interest to anthropologists. First is her analysis of collective action problems and the conditions under which people in local communities have devised rules and institutions to solve those dilemmas to conserve resources. Second is Ostrom’s discussion and classification of the complex rules used to manage resources. Third is her analysis of four kinds of goods (i.e., public goods, common-pool resources, toll goods and private goods) and the property regimes that produce them in different combinations. Last, I outline several directions in which her work seems to be going
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