Chapter 7: Scaling Property Law

Document Type

Contributions to Book

Publication Date



A Research Agenda for Property Law


The ‘politics of scale’ is a phrase that has come to mean the socially constructed landscape where a broad range of social, political and economic activities, including capital accumulation, state regulation and more occur. Scale itself is a concept of measurement and comparison where values increase or decrease in value based on other factors. Property is an apt area to deploy the concept around the politics of scale as property has been the subject of much academic discussion. This chapter offers a backdrop to those intersections by providing a lens for thinking across the distinctive registers of scale that property conflicts occur within. This chapter advances property methods in two distinct ways. First we identify the three registers of scale in the property context and how they shape property disputes. Property conflicts operate in the hierarchical scale (competencies) both in the ways that states empower individuals to control resources in land but also in the way states themselves regulate interests in property resources. Property can also be measured on a material register (capabilities) - or the extent, value, or length of claims in property. Finally, property operates on a rhetorical or discursive scale, where values are imposed on property claims to support individual or communal expectations of resource use. These values are often combined to validate some action on property resources. This chapter also aligns existing property scholarship within a scaled discourse by demonstrating how these three registers have been deployed to validate or invalidate action on property.


Published as Chapter 7 of the book A RESEARCH AGENDA FOR PROPERTY LAW, pages 93-108. Published by Edward Elgar Publishing.

This book is forthcoming in the MLIC catalog.