Adapting the grammar of institutions to study constitutive statements: The case of forest laws in Paraguay
Home » IGRI Research Seminars » Adapting the grammar of institutions to study constitutive statements: The case of forest laws in Paraguay
September 7, 2021
Silvana Peralta, National Ministry of the Environment, Paraguay
Crawford and Ostrom (1995) developed a theory to study institutions by delving into the study of institutional statements, which they called the “Grammar of Institutions”. These institutional statements can be expressed using two basic linguistic forms: constitutive statements and regulatory statements (Crawford, 2004). The Grammar of Institutions has so far mostly been used to study regulatory statements. This presentation adapts the institutional grammar to study constitutive statements. In order to study constitutive statements, I crafted a tool I named the ESPECO syntax. This syntax is inspired by the ABDICO syntax -from the Grammar of Institutions- with adjustments drawn upon grammatical and syntactical structure to fit constitutive statements. The application of this syntax may yield a better understanding of the nature and role of constitutive statements in the policy-making process. Then, I applied the syntax to a set of forest laws from Paraguay with the objective of identifying all the main concepts crafted by Paraguayan forest legislations, and then analyzed the impact that these rules have on forests and their users. I focused on forest laws due to the complex nature of the forest as a social-ecological system (SES). I chose to focus on Paraguay because the country has experienced massive changes in forest cover over the last several decades (FAO, 2011). The contribution of this study is two-fold: First, it contributes to the development of tools for the systematic study of constitutive statements by analyzing institutions that are not studied very often. Second, by applying the tool to the forest laws of Paraguay, I draw attention to the role that legislation and in particular constitutive statements may have on forest conditions, by exploring if the rules themselves could be the origin of the problems jeopardizing forest protection. I found that current policymaking processes might have the potential to become tools to “bureaucratize” nature. This means that governments –or any power organization– might use policies to impose definitions and measurements in ways that nature can be administered to benefit/fulfill particular agendas or actors.
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