Martor No. 22 / Year 2017

(Re)establishing Institutions as Tradition. A fieldwork-based analysis of Obște commons management institutions

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Author: David Diaconu

About the author:

David Diaconu
Graduate student at the National University of Political and Administrative Studies, PhD. candidate, Bucharest, Romania
E-mail: david.diaconu at politice dot ro

Pages: 65-79.

Keywords: Tradition; Obște; communal village; New Institutionalism; Commons management.


The Obște is the entity which manages the commons held by the villagers or by lineage groups in a communal form of property in the historical regions known as Walachia and Moldavia. Usually, the commons managed by the Obște consist of forests, pastures, and common infrastructure. The aim of this paper is to present a New Institutional overview over the commons’ management institutions of the Obște. The analysis will be cross-temporal in the sense that all the communal villages will be analyzed over three time periods: the old Obște (until 1948), the communist period (1948-1989, when all the communal properties were transferred to state ownership), and the new Obște (1990 – present; a significant moment in this third period was the enforcement of a new law in 2000, which provided the opportunity to re-establish the communal village Obște). The communal villages and their corresponding Obști that I will analyze in this paper are located in two Romanian historical regions, Vrancea and Argeș. The main difference is that while in the Vrancea region all the villagers have equal rights in the Obște, in the Argeș region the villagers do not have equal rights, with some individuals having more rights (called dramuri) in the Obște than others. Furthermore, there are differences in terms of the institutional arrangements that each type of Obște employs, with the villagers’ behaviors varying accordingly. Finally, in keeping with the special issue’s title, the paper also aims to investigate the evolution of Obște institutions over the time and their link to tradition.

How to cite this article: Diaconu, David. 2017. “(Re)establishing Institutions as Tradition. A fieldwork-based analysis of Obște commons management institutions.” Martor 22: 65-79.