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The Application of Communal Theories to Urban Property

Posted: 24 Dec 2008  

Dylan Oliver Malagrino

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: December 23, 2008


The advantages of privatized property regimes and common property regimes have been debated in legal and economic discourse for ages. Although private property is prevalent in the developed world, a reading of the available anthropological literature shows that common property regimes still thrive in many parts of the developing world to maintain natural resources and to spread the risk of property ownership. Considering the present U.S. housing crisis and its global effect on world markets, perhaps the developed world should incorporate more communal theories to - what has now become the developed world's scare resource - urban land. In fact, after a close look of the lessons learned from the successful operation of common property regimes in the developing world related to their natural resource systems, we see that the theories are relevant to the understanding of a wide-variety of property regimes used in modern societies such as the United States. Thus, the developed world should embrace a more pluralistic property regime. Why? The elaboration of common property regimes in the West, as in the use of instruments such as land trusts, could lessen the social exclusion from the right to property by making housing more affordable. With affordable housing, we can possibly avoid future housing crises such as the one the West is experiencing today.

Keywords: property, anthropology, common property, communal property, law and anthropology, law in society, housing market, housing crisis, urban land, land trust, social exclusion

Suggested Citation

Malagrino, Dylan Oliver, The Application of Communal Theories to Urban Property (December 23, 2008). UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 157. Available at SSRN:

Dylan Oliver Malagrino (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

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