Saturday, February 11, 2006

Eskimos and scatterplots

Two interesting examples of seasons & the law.

In some Eskimo societies, during the summer when it's easy to range about, there is a form of near anarchy and custom is enforced without formal sanctions by mere peer pressure. When winter comes and everyone is cooped up in their igloos, the law regime changes radically to a form of family law.

Second, in our Ellickson reader, there's a great discussion of how thin strips of land are scattered about medieval European village fields. During crop seasons, the land is privately managed: you control your strip and its produce. During other seasons when the land is used for grazing, suddenly it becomes a commons. The mixed-up strips prevent anyone from efficiently externalizing costs.

It's as if some county in some state went from communist to capitalist when the leaves changed.


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