Presentation of the 2015 study days
Danièle Bourcier (CERSA), Gilles Hériard Dubreuil (Mutadis), Sylvain Lavelle (ICAM)
CERSA – Centre for Studies and Administrative Sciences Research and Policy
10 rue Thénard – 75005 Paris
The state and the market are the two fundamental institutions of modernity for the governance and the property ownership in social activities. It is common to oppose the public power of the state and the private power of the market, each supposed to have its own territory. At state, the functions of government and administration of the society, police and justice, which came to be added over time other functions, linked in particular to the rise of the social state. At market, corporate functions, exchange according to supply and demand, production and consumption of wealth…
The conflict between these two fundamental institutions is staged chronically in history in ideological conflicts between, for example, supporters of socialism and those of liberalism. But this ideological polarization masks the system of well-understood interests between the market stakeholders and those of the state, contributing both at relegation of the common. There is in summary a system of “State-Market” in which actors share the administration and property management, distinguished through the property regime between public goods and private goods. Yet, it is now to be able to locate the commons (and the common) within the two-party system that suffers from many deficiencies and produced on occasion serious damages to society and its members. This is not just a theoretical option, but a practical necessity, given the revolution trained by the scarcity of resources and the digital age – especially clear in the need for energy transition for example.
The emergence or rather the return of the commons in our time intervene in a contexte of questioning of state and market, their roles, their powers and their respective performances. To think about this problem, it is allowed to use a conventional approach that questions the effectiveness or justice of any particular administration or management system (the state, the market or the common ?) And of a particular system of ownership (public goods, private goods or common goods ?). But it is also possible to use a non-traditional approach which determines the existence of a system of “primary goods” (“goods of persons” and “goods of milieu”) to re-build property systems, and then administration and management systems which correspond to them.
These two notions of goods deserve some explanations, because they can be reduced to a strictly legal meaning. The “goods of persons”, are what people take for goods (material or immaterial), while the property of the medium, are potential resources (material or immaterial) that conceal the nature or the society. These goods are considered here regardless of the property, administration or effective management system. Human beings are relationship beings living in and through the interaction or transaction relationship with their natural and social environment. They identify resources in the milieu that are interpreted in their view as goods, which, beyond their use or exchange value, may have an existence value. For example, in the case of African elephants, I will not eat their flesh nor sell or buy to others, but I wish this endangered species continues to exist : it is its “existence value”.
It is from this system of “primary goods”, reversing the usual logic, we can replenish the various modalities of property (public goods, private and commons), administrative and management systems of these goods (state, market, common). From a historical perspective, it is possible to find an alternation or combination between successive property, administration and management systems. They favour sometimes the public and the state, the private and the market, with a fluctuating place and margin for the common and commons. With the emergence of commons in our time, it is now appropriate to move to a system not dyadic, but triadic, where commons appear as a complementary or alternative way.
It is in these study days to reflect on the place of the Common within the tripartite system that it forms with the State and the Market.