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

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Drawing on empirical data and property theory, this article explores the property structure of a “free school” and the work property performs there. At Summerhill, we can see a tension between two property registers. 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 article focuses on property's contribution to a variegated social life at the school, analyzed 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 what constitutes property and how it works shift.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-4469.2007.00072.x

Affiliations: University of Kent, and Gender, and Sexuality

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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