Population and Environment

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 233–254 | Cite as

Toward a theory of restraint

  • Thomas Princen


Consumption largely remains a black box in the population, environment, and global change debates. The dominant perspective takes insatiability as axiomatic and assumes that reduced consumption will only happen through scarcity or the impositions of external authority. Yet humans often exhibit resource limiting behavior that is not the result of external controls nor is it altruistic or aberrant. This article develops the concept ofrestraint as an evolutionarily and culturally significant behavior, yet one that in modern times has been relegated to a regressive, if not trivial, status. The article defines restraint, hypothesizes its historical and evolutionary roots, lays out the conditions under which it can occur, and develops a theoretical parallel to cooperation in international relations theory.


Global Change Evolutionary Root International Relation Relation Theory Modern Time 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alcorn, Janis B. & Toledo, Victor M. (May, 1995). The role of tenurial shells in ecological sustainability: Property rights and natural resource management in Mexico. Paper presented at annual meeting of International Association of the Study of Common Property, Bodo, Norway.Google Scholar
  2. Axelrod, Robert (1984).The evolution of cooperation. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Bromley, Daniel W. (1992). (Ed.).Making the commons work: Theory, practice, and policy. San Francisco, CA: Institute for Contemporary Studies Press.Google Scholar
  4. Colchester, Marcus & Lohman, Larry (1993). (Ed.).The struggle for land and the fate of the forests. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  5. Dahlberg, Kenneth A. (1993). Regenerative food systems: Broadening the scope and agenda of sustainability. In Patricia Allen, (Ed.).Food for the future: Conditions and contradictions of sustainability. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Daly, Herman E. (1991).Steady-state economics. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2nd ed.Google Scholar
  7. Daly, Herman E. & Cobb, John B. (1989).For the common good: Redirecting the economy toward community, the environment, and a sustainable future. Boston, MA: Beacon.Google Scholar
  8. De Young, Raymond. (1993). Changing behavior and making it stick: The conceptualization and management of conservation behavior.Environment and Behavior 25, 485–505.Google Scholar
  9. The Ecologist. (1992). Whose Common Future? A Special Issue. 22, 121–210.Google Scholar
  10. Ehrlich, Paul R. & Ehrlich, Anne H. (1990).The population explosion. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  11. Ehrlich, Paul R., Ehrlich, Anne H. & Holdren, John P. (1993). Availability, entropy, and the laws of thermodynamics. In H. Daly (Ed.)Valuing the earth: Economics, ecology, ethics (pp. 69–73). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas (1993). Selections from “Energy and Economic Myths”. In H. Daly (Ed.).Valuing the earth: Economics, ecology, ethics (pp. 89–112). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Heilbroner, Robert (1956).The quest for wealth: A study of acquisitive man. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  14. Kaplan, Stephen (1983). A model of human-environment compatibility.Environment and Behavior 15, 311–332.Google Scholar
  15. Katzev, R.D. and Johnson, T.R. (1987).Promoting energy conservation: An analysis of behavioral research. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  16. Keohane, Robert O. (1984)After hegemony: Cooperation and discord in the world political economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kneen, Brewster (1989).From land to mouth: Understanding the food system. Toronto: NC Press.Google Scholar
  18. Korten, David C. (1990).Getting to the 21st century: Voluntary action and the global agenda. West Hartford, Conn.: Kumarian Press.Google Scholar
  19. Lele, Sharachchandra M. (1991). Sustainable development: A critical review.World Development 19, 607–21.Google Scholar
  20. Low, Bobbi S. & Heinen, Joel T. (1993). Population, resources, and environment: Implications of human behavioral ecology for conservation.Population and Environment 15, 7–41.Google Scholar
  21. Meadows, Donella H., Meadows, Dennis L. and Randers, Jorgen (1992).Beyond the limits: Confronting global collapse, envisioning a sustainable future. Post Mills, Vermont: Chelsea Green.Google Scholar
  22. Myers, Norman (1993).Ultimate security: The environmental basis of political stability. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  23. Olson, Mancur (1965).The logic of collective action: Public goods and the theory of groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Ostrom, Elinor (1990).Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Oye, Kenneth A. (1986). (Ed.).Cooperation under anarchy: Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Pirages, Dennis (1989).Global technopolitics: The international politics of technology and resources. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  27. Poore, Duncan (1989).No timber without trees: Sustainability in the tropical forest. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  28. Princen, Thomas & Finger, Matthias (1994).Environmental NGOs in world politics: Linking the local and the global. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Rich, Bruce (1994).Mortgaging the earth: The world bank, environmental impoverishment, and the crisis of development. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  30. Rosenau, James (1990).Turbulence in world politics: A theory of change and continuity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Runge, C. Ford (1992). Common property and collective action in economic development. In Daniel W. Bromley (Ed.)Making the commons work: Theory, practice, and policy (pp. 17–39). San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies Press.Google Scholar
  32. Stern, Paul C. (February 15, 1993). The second environmental science: Human-environment interactions. Lecture, annual meeting, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Boston.Google Scholar
  33. Young, Oran R. (1989).International cooperation: Building regimes for natural resources and the environment. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Princen
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Natural Resources and EnvironmentThe University of MichiganAnn Arbor

Personalised recommendations