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 United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, property is examined in the context of citizen and community-led ‘do-it-yourself’ interventions in the urban environment. Perhaps even more than in formal planning processes, claims about ownership are central to these activities. Finding multiple forms of property at work in the city, and noting that formal legal title is often less important than more informal ownership, this article sheds new light on 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.
Amelia Thorpe, Hegel’s Hipsters: Claiming Ownership in the Contemporary City, Social and Legal Studies. First published date: April-19-2017. 10.1177/0964663917701304.