Skip to main content

Ethics of Property, Illegal Settlements and the Right to Subsistence

Sanghera, Balihar, Satybaldieva, Elmira (2012) Ethics of Property, Illegal Settlements and the Right to Subsistence. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 32 (1/2). pp. 96-114. ISSN 0144-333X. (doi:10.1108/01443331211201798) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:34509)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.
Official URL:


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how illegal settlers and poor families struggle for basic necessities through land invasions, covert practices and illegal sabotage, examining how fundamental rights to subsistence and dignity are superior to private property claims.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper combines two qualitative research projects that examined property rights in Kyrgyzstan, conducting semi-structured interviews with poor groups, elites and state officials. One project was conducted between 2009-2010, examining two illegal settlements and a squatted building in the capital Bishkek, and the other project took place between 2007-2008 in four villages in Osh region.

Findings – It was found that illegal settlers and poor families deliberate upon the moral aspects of land and property, though sometimes their judgements are distorted by nationalist feelings and racialised identities. Poor and propertyless groups struggle for basic necessities, lacking access to social rights and facing class contempt and state coercion.

Research limitations/implications – The authors criticise de Soto's ideas on legalising squatters' holdings, suggesting that his property rights approach to land offers a flawed moral vision for society and a mis-understanding of illegal settlements.

Practical implications – International donors need to re-think development strategies for increasing growth and reducing poverty, and for Kyrgyzstan to abandon the national residential registration system (propiska).

Originality/value – The authors' moral responsibilities approach on property recognises the importance of land and valuable resources for human capabilities, the competing obligations of the state and the role of moral propriety and sentiments in shaping responsibilities towards vulnerable and poor groups.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1108/01443331211201798
Uncontrolled keywords: Ethics, Human rights, Kyrgyzstan, Post-socialism, Poverty, Property, Social responsibility, Transition economies, Urban development
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Mita Mondal
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2013 08:36 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:11 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Sanghera, Balihar:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.