The Commons: Rural vs. Urban


rural urban

It might be difficult to pinpoint a commons in the current big and mega cities particularly capital and industrial ones. In urban areas, where capitalism is the dominant system, free access is the more-prevalent model. While on the contrary, in the countryside, the probability of spotting a commons becomes more likely. I would like to argue, from my own perspective, why commoning and the commons have more presence in rural areas than in urban ones. The opposite definitely applies for capitalism.

First, the act of commoning, or doing things in common, is relatively premised on collective recognition and consensus about certain values, beliefs and attitudes attributing to common practices. This formula of interrelated and correlated components can be best incarnated among rural people who have lived and communicated together inherently from ancestors to descendants. Rural people have always shared the same traditions, habits and manners; faced similar challenges and jointly figured out outward-looking solutions. Besides, they are substantially more conservative and protective of their commons and common practices; more cautious and reluctant about the innovations and modernizations driven by the hegemonic force of capitalism. Concepts such as conviviality, simplicity, originality and common destiny are cherished and valued.

In contrast, people in urban areas probably come from diverse backgrounds; appreciate different beliefs, values and traditions and, in a city like London where I currently live, belong to various countries. Apparently, city people do not necessarily share the same principles, ethics or perceptions. Besides, they are increasingly more impressed, receptive and eventually submissive to the attracting baits of a capital life style and the glamorous, yet artificial, modern products. Well, this, certainly, does not eliminate the existence of commoning and commoners in the city. Yet, it makes it more complicated and infrequent.

Second, people in rural areas mainly rely on their own local subsistence and livelihoods. They consume the production of each other’s and mutually contribute to the welfare of the entire rural community. The perpetuation of such pattern is a substrate for their communal well-being. This posits the significance of their commoning, for instance, to jointly discuss the risks of an approaching storm on their crops and how to minimize the potential damage through collective efforts.

On the contrary, within the market primacy, people in urban areas basically work for private companies and corporations that widely impose long working hours and hectic, stressful atmospheres. Their income (wage) is dependent on their individual contribution and competency. Generating more monetary benefits for the owners is the principle and final destination of their endeavor. This induces the fact the capitalist utilitarian approach, in the city, critically obstructs people from doing in common and hinders the existence of commons in general.


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