Publication Year


Enclosure and the Commons

From: Think Like a Commoner


What happens when markets become so powerful that they disrupt natural ecosystems, reorder how people conduct their lives and claim ownership of life-forms? It is sometimes difficult to step outside of our culture to take stock of the actual power and far-reaching effects of markets. But once you learn to identify the commons and understand its dynamics, it becomes quite clear that the privatization and commodification of our shared wealth is one of the great unacknowledged scandals of our time.This process is often called the enclosure of the commons. It’s a process by which corporations pluck valuable resources from their natural contexts, often with government support and sanction, and declare that they be valued through market prices. The point is to convert resources that are shared and used by many to ones that are privately owned and controlled, and treat them as tradeable commodities.


David Bollier

David Bollier is an author, activist, blogger and independent scholar who has studied the commons as a transformative paradigm for fifteen years. He is co-founder of the Commons Strategies Group, co-director of the Commons Law Project, and a frequent speaker and strategy advisor. Bollier is an author and editor of six books on different aspects of the commons, including Green Governance, The Wealth of the Commons and Viral Spiral. He blogs at and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.