Property as an Asset of Resilience: Rethinking Ownership, Communities and Exclusion Through the Register of Resilience

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International Journal for the Semiotics of Law


This article sets out a new conception of ‘property as an asset of resilience’. Building on Fineman’s emphasis on ‘webs’ of resilience, and applying insights from Actor-Network Theory and Resilient Property Theory, we examine how the rhetorical claims asserted by owners and non-owners, individually and collectively, and the ways that law recognizes and endorses those claims, affect the production of property-as-resilience. Applying Fineman’s framework, we argue that the ‘embodiment’ and ‘embeddedness’ of human vulnerability is revealed by the necessary and inevitable relationship we have with land, housing and place. Everyone—including homeless people—must ‘be’ somewhere (embodiment); however, it is our ability to access ‘assets of resilience’ through our social embeddedness in institutional structures and relationships that mitigates (or not) our experience and life opportunities. In this article we analyze the nature of real property as an asset of resilience, the consequences of exclusionary concepts of ownership for how resilience is allocated, and the implications for how we think and talk about ‘exclusion’ and ‘inclusion’ in property theories and property law. We consider the roles that states perform in the allocation of property as an asset of resilience: both directly, through the protection and enforcement of private property rights and official narratives about the nature of private property; and indirectly, as owners leverage the hinterland of privilege extended to ‘ownership’ and owners to deepen their own networks of resilience.


This article can be accessed through Springer Link.