Random readings on society, politics and change – Jorge Carrillo
Property is both revered and reviled. Praised for its connections to autonomy, agency, power and community, property attracts scorching critiques for its implication in exclusion, inequality and injustice. This article provides a new perspective from which to examine this dual nature of property. Drawing on fieldwork in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, property is examined in the context of citizen and community-led “do-it-yourself” interventions in the urban environment. Perhaps even more than in official planning processes, claims about ownership are central to these activities. Finding multiple forms of property at work in the city, and noting that legal title is often less important than more informal ownership, this article provides new insights into some of the oldest debates in property. Amongst echoes of Lockean labour-based theory, Hegelian personhood theory emerges as particularly helpful in explaining the intimate connections between property and identity, community and power in the city.
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