Working Paper

IDS working papers;52

Rules, Norms and the Pursuit of Sustainable Livelihoods

Published on 1 January 1997

The central aim of this Paper is to review the current understanding of how institutional arrangements can either encourage or discourage the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods. It explores the relationship between resources and capital, examining the nature of property rights and regimes, looking at the ways in which social exclusion affects the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods, and critiquing Common Pool Resource (CPR) theory.

It concludes that socially shared rules can encourage sustainable livelihoods provided the rate at which individuals extract benefits from the resource base remains relatively low, and distribution of benefits remains wide. However, when such rules reinforce more narrow distributional patterns, livelihoods can be profoundly unsustainable, irrespective of the physical state of the resource base.

Cite this publication

Johnson, C.A. (1997) Rules, Norms and the Pursuit of Sustainable Livelihoods, IDS Working Paper 52, Brighton: IDS.

Publication details

published by
Johnson, Craig A.
IDS Working Paper, issue 52
1 85864 118 7


Related content