skip to content

Faculty of Economics

Journal Cover

Dasgupta, P.

Dark matters: exploitation as cooperation

Journal of Theoretical Biology

Vol. 299(21) (2012)

Abstract: The empirical literature on human cooperation contains studies of communitarian institutions that govern the provision of public goods and management of common property resources in poor countries. Scholars studying those institutions have frequently used the Prisoners' Dilemma game as their theoretical tool-kit. But neither the provision of local public goods nor the management of local common property resources involves the Prisoners' Dilemma. That has implications for our reading of communitarian institutions. By applying a fundamental result in the theory of repeated games to a model of local common property resources, it is shown that communitarian institutions can harbour exploitation of fellow members, something that would not be possible in societies where cooperation amounts to overcoming the Prisoners' Dilemma. The conclusion we should draw is that exploitation can masquerade as cooperation.

JEL Codes: C7

Author links: Partha Dasgupta  

Publisher's Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022519311002207



Papers and Publications



Recent Publications


Elliott, M. and Golub, B. A Network Approach to Public Goods Journal of Political Economy [2019]

Onatski, A. and Wang, C. Spurious Factor Analysis Econometrica, forthcoming [2020]

Biroli, P., Boneva, T., Raja, A. and Rauh, C. Parental Beliefs About Returns to Child Health Investments Journal of Econometrics [2020]

Dziubinski, M., Goyal, S. and Minarsch, D. E. N. The Strategy of Conquest Journal of Economic Theory, forthcoming [2020]