Two cultures and tragedy of the commons.


In 1959 the scientist, administrator and novelist C.P. Snow gave a lecture in Cambridge entitled 'The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution' in which he said that 'intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly split into two groups', which he identified as literary intellectuals and scientists (Snow, 1998). The 'Two Cultures' theme was taken up again 9 years later in another famous paper 'The Tragedy of the Commons' written by the biologist Garrett Hardin (Hardin, 1968). This time however the polarization was between social and natural scientists. This paper uses the case of land management in Africa to show that this divide is alive and well. It starts by describing recent criticisms of the research agenda incurred by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and then look at the sweeping land tenure reforms underway in Africa. Finally it discusses why this is significant for ecology and emphasize how important it is for African ecologists to be interdisciplinary and avoid policy pitfalls associated with the two cultures divide.


Lovett, J.C.; Quinn, C.H.; Gregorowski, R.; Ockwell, D.G. Two cultures and tragedy of the commons. African Journal of Ecology (2006) 44: 1-5.

Two cultures and tragedy of the commons.

Published 1 January 2006