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Opening Up Ownership: Community Belonging, Belongings and the Productive Life of Property

Cooper, Davina (2007) Opening Up Ownership: Community Belonging, Belongings and the Productive Life of Property. Law and Social Inquiry, 32 (3). pp. 625-664. ISSN 0897-6546. (doi:10.1111/j.1747-4469) (KAR id:128)


Drawing on empirical data and property theory, this paper explores the property structure of a free school and the work property performs there. Its organising principle is a tension between two school practices. On the one hand, the founder and present members stress the importance of individual ownership; at the same time the school’s property regime involves property-limitation rules, a dispersal of rights, collective forms of property, and cross-cutting, pluralized sites of institutional recognition. In exploring how this tension is manifested through property’s work, the paper focuses on property’s contribution to a variegated social, at the school, analysed in terms of personal, civic and boundary relations. With belonging treated as the central component of property, rather than exclusion or control, ways of understanding how property works shift. In particular, the paper revisits claims regarding property’s constitutive or formative power.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/j.1747-4469
Additional information: The definitive version is available at
Uncontrolled keywords: property, belonging, free school, boundaries, legal pluralism, community, public, private
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Katrin Steinack
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 18:00 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:39 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Cooper, Davina.

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