In "Foundations for Environmental Political Economy," John Dryzek explored the prospects of an environmentalist economic subject, "Homo ecologicus," as an alternative to the traditional rational actor or economic man. Dryzek criticized previous efforts at positing an ethical, environmentalist subject, saying they were flawed by wishful thinking and reductionism. The alternative Dryzek proposed instead was based on his Ostrom's case study work on managing common-pool resources.
Successful institutions of the type identified by Ostrom rarely come into being through explicit contracts. More often they evolve through long periods of informal, collective learning about what works and what doesn't. Another approach to these institutions would involve more deliberate experimentation with institutional innovations. For such institutional reconstruction to take place, however, it is essential, Dryzek cautioned, that participation "move beyond the narrow community of political economists and political theorists and into society at large." Evaluating disposable time as a common pool resource could be one such deliberate experiment.