We conducted a comparative study of pastoral tenure systems with the goal of developing a theoretical model that explains the variation in tenure systems across pastoral societies. In this paper we first describe the ideal types of property regimes – open access, common property, state property, and private property – as property relations, in which reciprocal access to grazing resources is a key dimension. We explain the variation in pastoral tenure systems using an economic defensibility model (EDM) that considers the density, predictability, and competition for common-pool grazing resources. We used environmental data from Binford?s Frames of References (2001) and ethnographic data from Johnson?s (2002) and Casimir?s (1992) comparative studies of pastoral societies. We used standard cross-cultural analysis and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) (Rihoux and Ragin 2009) to analyze the cross-cultural data. Our findings show that tenure systems are complex and that there is more overlap in property regimes than the ideal types suggest. Finally, we find different property regimes under similar environmental conditions, suggesting that political encapsulation may play an important role.


Mark Moritz
Elizabeth Gardiner
Amber Johnson

Synthesis of Ecology, Biology and Ethnographic Data e-session