Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School

Building a New Approach to Policy and the Social Sciences

Editors: Jayme Lemke and Vlad Tarko

Under contract with Agenda Publishing (UK) / Columbia University Press (US)


When Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, she drew unprecedented attention to the Bloomington School research program in institutional economics and political economy. The Bloomington School approach is special for so many reasons. First, an essential part of the success of the Bloomington School has been its ability to learn from a variety of different perspectives across the social sciences. Depending on their specific analytic or economic purposes, Elinor Ostrom and colleagues adopted and adapted conceptual tools from a wide variety of sources. This book attempts to build on that tradition of building disciplinary bridges by highlighting some of the most important of these connections. Second, the Bloomington School approach embraced multiple methods. The scholarly approach of Elinor Ostrom and her collaborators was to embrace insight wherever it could be found, be that through field work, case studies, game theoretic modeling, laboratory experiments, big data analysis, or less usual methods, like their incorporation of satellite imagery analysis to study deforestation. Finally, an important part of what is special about the Bloomington School is the extent to which their model of scholarly and civic engagement brought them together as a working group and enabled them to integrate themselves within their community. In no small part due to their craftsman-in-the-workshop model of scholarship is now connected to numerous other research centers around the world that the Bloomington School has inspired.

Draft contents


PART I: Philosophy

Self-governance: From Tocqueville to Elinor Ostrom

Social ontology and institutional theory

PART II: Bloomington School in context

Virginia Political Economy

New Institutional Economics

Old Institutionalism

Austrian Economics

Behavioral Economics

Economic Sociology

PART III: Policy analysis

Advising public policy makers

Environmental policy analysis

Public administration