The Ambition and Transformative Potential of Progressive Property

66 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2012 Last revised: 20 Feb 2013

See all articles by Ezra Rosser

Ezra Rosser

American University - Washington College of Law

Date Written: 2013


The emerging progressive property school of thought champions and finds its meaning in the social nature of property. Rejecting the idea that exclusion lies at the core of property law, progressive property scholars call for a reconsideration of the relationships owners and non-owners have with property and with each other. Despite these ambitions, so far progressive property scholarship has largely confined itself to questions of exclusion and access. This paper argues that such an emphasis glosses over the race-related acquisition and distribution problems that plague American history and property law. The modest structural changes supported by progressive property scholars fail to account for this racial history and, by so doing, present a limited vision of the changes to property law that progressive scholars should support. Though sympathetic with the progressive property political and scholarly orientation and the policy arguments made regarding exclusion and access, I argue that the first priority of any transformative project of progressive property must be revisiting acquisition and distribution.

Keywords: Property Law, Acquisition, Conquest, Redlining, Slavery, Jim Crow, Law and Economics, Progressive Property

Suggested Citation

Rosser, Ezra, The Ambition and Transformative Potential of Progressive Property (2013). 101 California Law Review 107 (2013), American University, WCL Research Paper No. 2012-13, Available at SSRN:

Ezra Rosser (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

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Washington, DC 20016
United States


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