Taboos as Informal Institution of Local Resource Management in Ghana
University of Freiburg, Fac. of Environment and Natural Resources, Germany
Taboos are good examples of informal institutions, where traditional local norms rather than official rules define and regulate the actions of people. They are mostly self-complied, out of fear of misfortunes that are believed to befall people who flout them. This attribute sets them apart from other informal local norms and gives them unique natural resource conservation potential. But the potential role of taboos in natural resource management and nature conservation is threatened by decline in their ability to influence local practice as local communities transform. Some taboos have lost or are losing their influence on practice in contemporary communities. The societal transformations that have been alleged to affect compliance with taboos include formal education, adoption of foreign religion and in-country migration. Nevertheless, some natural resource management taboos have survived societal transformation and continue to influence local practice. The literature on the subject does not explain why some resource management taboos have lost their influence on practice in contemporary local communities while others in the same contexts continue to influence local practice. This knowledge is vital for defining the role of taboos in contemporary natural resource management and nature conservation.
Keywords: Compliance, Ghana, informal institutions, local resource management, taboos
Contact Address: Paul Osei-Tutu, University of Freiburg, Fac. of Environment and Natural Resources, Tennenbacher Str. 4,, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany, e-mail: paul.osei.tutuifp.uni-freiburg.de