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Since the writings of Adam Smith, economists have understood the important role that private property rights play in a well functioning economic system. Without well-defined, enforced and transferable property rights, the tragedy of the commons is said to result, as in the classic case of over-fishing and over-grazing. This book challenges this narrow view of property rights by examining the role of informal constraints imposed by customs and culture. Recognising that a great deal of human interaction takes place in the absence of individually specified rights, the authors challenge the notion that a tragic outcome is inevitable with regard to commons.