Collective Action in UK Urban Community Growing Projects: A Comparative Analysis
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Instead of a tragedy of the commons occurring in which resources used in common are degraded over time as individuals act in their own self-interest, many scholars have shown that these common resources can be successfully managed through a process of collective action. This study examines the conditions required for sustainable collective action in urban community gardens, as a community garden is a resource used in common by local people. The research takes a comparative case study approach by investigating seven community gardens in the UK. The data collection method used was interviews and documentation analysis. The results of the research were compared to a conceptual model for successful collective action developed in light of the theoretical propositions put forward in the literature. This conceptual model was derived from the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework. The results of this research showed that five of the seven case studies can be classified as sustainable and durable collective action whilst two of the cases were analysed as unsuccessful. The picture across the case studies was highly complex, no one case study was completely in line with the theory as different variables were present in different cases. Some of the findings were largely in line with the theoretical propositions however in two of the case studies the conditions of appropriations rules, sanctions and monitoring were not sufficiently apparent; yet these cases still clearly demonstrated successful collective action contrary to the theory. The principle conclusions that can be drawn are as follows: not all the design principle conditions are required to be present for successful collective action to be achieved; common understanding, leadership, trust and knowledge are all important variables for successful collective action although size and homogeneity do not appear to be significant.