Polycentrism and Prison Gangs

The Annual Proceedings of the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, 2011-2012

30 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2012

See all articles by David Skarbek

David Skarbek

Brown University - Department of Political Science

Andrew Marcum

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

In this paper prepared for the Miller Upton Forum on the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, we examine the polycentric system of governance that has emerged among gangs in California to fill the void created by inoperative, centralized government. Formal government’s inability or unwillingness to define and enforce property rights, resolve disputes, and lessen negative externalities among drug dealers creates long-term demand for governance that is supplied by prison gangs. This context furthers our understanding of how robust self-governance institutions emerge without congruent institutions, minimal recognition of rights by government, and formal conflict resolution mechanisms. It is argued that innovative entrepreneurs can overcome these institutional design failures, although their absence provides potential sources of conflict with disastrous and unlikely consequences.

Suggested Citation

Skarbek, David and Marcum, Andrew, Polycentrism and Prison Gangs (2011). The Annual Proceedings of the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, 2011-2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2176314

David Skarbek (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 1844
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Andrew Marcum

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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