Toward the commoning of governance

TitleToward the commoning of governance
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsLeitheiser S, Trell E-M
Secondary AuthorsHorlings I, Franklin A
Journal Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Date Published July 20, 2021
Type of ArticleResearch Article
Keywordscitizenship, commoning, Commons, democracy, food

Conventional political thought and practice continue to be stifled by a dilemma of choosing between the ideal imaginaries of State and/or Market solutions. Widely presupposed as the only valid possibilities in both theory and practice, this stale dilemma covers up a real multitude of actually existing alternative approaches to governance practiced in civil society. State/Market approaches are identical in the way that they construct a ‘spectator’ role for communities, who are left to choose between their preferred set of rules and norms developed elsewhere. The concept of commoning governance offers an opportunity to break free of this stalemate. It creates a new role for citizens and their communities as ‘sparring partners’; who although they operate within the limits of current State/Market institutions, create new norms and rules against and beyond them. In the paper, we first expand on our understanding of commoning governance: re-designing governance arrangements to serve the common good. That is here understood in terms of (radical) democracy, solidarity and sustainable ecological relationships. Second, we illustrate how commoning efforts on the ground contribute to the reclaiming of the democratic imaginary as a political arena by zooming in to a case study of the three cities involved in civic-led network of German Food Policy Councils. Finally, we reflect on the empirical barriers that communities of commoning endure, and call on policymakers, planners and scholars to interrogate their own normative understandings of citizenship and democracy, and begin to recognize theoretical and latent possibilities by enabling commoning with new or re-designed institutions of governance.