The Spatial: A Forgotten Dimension of Property

61 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2013

See all articles by Paul T. Babie

Paul T. Babie

Adelaide Law School, The University of Adelaide

Date Written: November 17, 2013


This article employs urban sociologist and planning theorist Edward W Soja’s spatial scaffolding found in the ontological "trialectic" to look at property anew, with its obvious, but oft-forgotten spatial dimension brought to the foreground. The article uses Soja’s ontological trialectic to reassemble what we already know about property, demonstrating that theorizing about property implicitly recognizes the importance of spatiality. Recognizing the interwoven complexity to and inseparability and interdependence of historicality, sociality and spatiality — Soja’s three ontological elements — of property allows space an explicit role in defining what property is, when it exists, and how it is central to and affected by human life. But more importantly, it reveals how property is the cause of spatial injustice, which opens the possibility of using property as a vehicle both to seek and to achieve spatial justice. The article concludes by reflecting upon the emerging definition of spatial injustice, how property is one source of such injustice, and how recognizing the spatial dimension may allow us to see and to remedy instances of it.

Keywords: property theory, legal theory, property law, Edward Soja, ontological trialectic, urban sociology, urban geography

JEL Classification: K11

Suggested Citation

Babie, Paul T., The Spatial: A Forgotten Dimension of Property (November 17, 2013). San Diego Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 323, 2013, U. of Adelaide Law Research Paper No. 2013-26, Available at SSRN:

Paul T. Babie (Contact Author)

Adelaide Law School, The University of Adelaide ( email )

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