What Alpine Peasants Have in Common: Observations on Communal Tenure in a Swiss Village

  • Robert McC. Netting


The successful social regulation of land use reflects both a sensitivity to local social conditions and to the characteristics of the system of exploitation and the resource itself. In this instance of communal land tenure in the Swiss Alps, Netting examines an ancient and apparently very stable system of land management through communal tenure combined with private individual land ownership. Netting raises the question, “what variables promoted and effectively maintained the continued balance of individual and communal rights to resources?” He examines the characteristics of several types of communal holdings to explore the features of exploitation which particularly lend themselves to communal management: alpine grazing lands, forests, rugged waste lands, paths and roads. This example makes the useful point that persistence of a cultural practice of resource management through time requires explanation just as much as change does.


Land Tenure Common Land Waste Land Individual Ownership Communal Ownership 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert McC. Netting
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ArizonaTuscon, Arizona, TusconUSA

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