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Институциональная экономика (подробнее...)
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Учебные программы

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Property and Community [учебная программа]
Опубликовано на портале: 10-11-2003
Charles C. Geisler
2002
In recent years, property issues of many kinds have moved to center stage in the U.S. and other societies. Public media and academic discourse routinely feature the pros and cons of property topics such as privatization, ownership ethics, the "takings" implications of landowner regulation, the distribution of ownership, the so-called tragedy of the commons, public land management successes and debacles, Indian land claims, the separation of ownership and control in farmland, and many more. Regularly, the evening news processes unsettling ownership questions - who owns the INTERNET, genetic materials, AT&T, the Dead Sea Scrolls, universities, Antarctica, ecosystems, and joint property following divorce? As such questions vie for attention, three things seem clear. Property questions are of foremost importance in day-to-day life; "public" and "private" are losing their relevance as useful ownership labels; and a new theory of ownership widely referred to as the social relations theory of property is displacing the old notion of "property as things."
Social relations are the business of sociology. Not surprisingly, classical sociological theorists were intensely interested in property questions, as are their living counterparts. Questions relevant to a "social relations theory of property" have captured attention within the discipline on many fronts. Where does "ownership" originate in different societies? Is possession inborn or socially constructed? What gives property its social value (prestige, power, privilege)? How did the rise of the nation state, the spread of colonialism, and the rise of postmodernism redefine property? Under what conditions and with what success do different property systems coexist? How can gender-based ownership systems be explained? What is the relationship between ownership type and natural resource use? How do the elites in society create ideologies and institutions which justify their accumulation of property? What are the interactions between community forms and evolving property rules?
This seminar welcomes students excited by these questions and willing to read/ investigate/discuss the centrality of property institutions in our lives. Prior knowledge about property as an important social institution and set of social relationships is less crucial than imagination, interest, and critical thinking. The course will challenge various orthodox ideas. Among these are that notion that property is fixed and constant; that privatization of ownership is an inexorable tendency across societies; that pubic ownership is socially equitable; that poverty goes hand-in-hand with the lack of property; that the American Dream of home ownership applies to the majority of Americans; and that landowners in the United States generally feel they have suffered a loss in property value as a result of government environmental or land use regulation. Also welcome in the course are students who, through exposure to other societies or historical periods, can illuminate lesser known or inadequately understood property questions.
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