The UK, the US and other advanced democracies are currently experiencing a period of significant political turmoil and change. Property is imbricated in the heart of these challenges.
While much of the public discourse has focused on the role of globalization in fueling the rise of right-wing populism, working-class disaffection, polarization and inequality, little attention has been paid to the role that property law has played in implementing the new politics of exclusion, identity and marginalization.
Property laws and policies occupy a central role in the allocation, preservation, or maintenance of privilege and disadvantage, and have a crucial role to play in mediating, compensating for and mitigating vulnerability.
As such, the institution of private property is a primary site from which to examine the social production of resilience, as well as inequalities in access to the mechanisms that enable resilience, and new strategies to overcome the injustices that fuel the current political crises.
This workshop will explore what role Vulnerability Theory can play in understanding how property ownership has sharpened an insider-outsider culture and contributed to our current political climate.
Property laws, and the policies that they give effect to, have long channeled the benefits of full citizenship through one's relationship to property.
The current crisis of austerity and welfare retrenchment brings into sharp relief Charles Reich’s 1964 argument for the recognition of a new property in government benefits.
Yet, notwithstanding law’s creativity and innovation in developing regulatory solutions to a wide range of new property challenges – from environmental rights to virtual currencies – the legal frameworks that govern access to the material resources that enable resilience remain geared around a framework of dominant private property norms that includes free market ideology, individual autonomy, and personal responsibility.
In an age of individualism, the idea that exclusion is the essence of property law has gained significant traction; more recently, the emerging school of sharing property has identified a new theoretical space for exploring strategies of resilience.
These debates are underpinned by critical questions about property law’s role and function: should it understand and make the best out of available material; achieve or support change in a progressive or progressive but incremental way or contribute to, or at least not actively prevent, progress towards greater resilience.
Justifications for property law, and its role in maintaining the property status quo, are rooted in fundamental claims about stabilizing the political, social and economic order.
This workshop will explore the role of property law and property theory in supporting the production of resilience.
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