Bloomington School on Political Economy

The Bloomington School of political economy refers to the interdisciplinary research program founded and advanced by Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, most notably through the Workshop they established at Indiana University Bloomington (IUB). The moniker “Bloomington School” was initially coined by William Mitchell, who used geographical terms to describe schools like IUB where various “theories of collective choice” were created. Now the term refers to the entire research agenda of the Ostroms and their associates, which is pursued in various research centers across the globe. Bloomington scholars contribute to such areas as citizenship and civic engagement, common-pool resource management, entrepreneurship, epistemology, institutional grammar, new institutionalism, non-profits, ontology, policy analysis, political theory, polycentricity, public administration, public choice, rules, self-governance, and social ecology.

Select Bibliography

Aligica, Paul Dragos and Peter J. Boettke. 2009. Challenging Institutional Analysis and Development: The Bloomington School. London: Routledge.

Aligica, Paul Dragos. 2014. Institutional Diversity and Political Economy: The Ostroms and Beyond. Oxford University Press.

Cole, Daniel H. and Michael McGinnis. 2014–2018. Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School of Political Economy: A Framework for Policy Analysis. 4 vols. Lexington Books.

Herzberg, Roberta Q., Peter J. Boettke, and Paul Dragos Aligica, eds. 2019. Ostrom’s Tensions: Reexamining the Political Economy and Public Policy of Elinor C. Ostrom. Vol. 2 of Tensions in Political Economy. Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Lemke, Jayme and Vlad Tarko, eds. 2021. Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School: Building a New Approach to Policy and the Social Sciences. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

McGinnis, Michael D. 2020. “Updated Guide to IAD and the Language of the Ostrom Workshop: A Simplified Overview of a Complex Framework for the Analysis of Institutions and their Development."

Mitchell, William C. 1988. “Virginia, Rochester, and Bloomington: Twenty Years of Public Choice and Political Science.” Public Choice 56: 101–19. 

Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press.

_____. 2005. Understanding Institutional Diversity. Princeton University Press.

_____. 2010. “Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems.” American Economic Review 100: 641–72.

Ostrom, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. 2014. Choice, Rules, and Collective Action: The Ostroms on the Study of Institutions and Governance. Edited by Filippo Sabetti and Paul Dragos Aligica. ECPR Press.

Ostrom, Vincent. 1980. “Artisanship and Artifact.” American Society for Public Administration 40: 309–17.

_____. 1997. The Meaning of Democracy and the Vulnerability of Democracies. The University of Michigan Press.

Ostrom, Vincent, Charles M. Tiebout, and Robert Warren. “The Organization of Government in Metropolitan Areas: A Theoretical Inquiry.” American Political Science Review 55: 831–42.

Sabetti, Filippo and Dario Castiglione, eds. 2017. Institutional Diversity in Self-Governing Societies: The Bloomington School and Beyond. Lexington Books. 

Tarko, Vlad. 2017. Elinor Ostrom: An Intellectual Biography. Rowman & Littlefield.