The Idea of Property: A Comparative Review of Recent Empirical Research Methods

Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies Vol. 26 #2 (Spring 2019)

U. of Adelaide Law Research Paper No. 2019-69

37 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2019

See all articles by Paul T. Babie

Paul T. Babie

Adelaide Law School, The University of Adelaide

Peter D. Burdon

University of Adelaide - School of Law

Francesca da Rimini

University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Cherie Metcalf

Queen's University - Faculty of Law

Geir Stenseth

University of Oslo - Department of Private Law

Date Written: June 3, 2019

Abstract

While theory offers important insights into property’s normative content, it sometimes fails to tell us about what people understand property to mean and how they interact with those things said to be owned by them. This has significant implications for some of the challenges facing humanity, including climate change, unequal distributions of wealth and resources, biodiversity loss, and innovation. In response, a growing body of literature is emerging that looks at property through a different lens; rather than theorizing property in an abstract way or attempting to craft a normative account of and justification for the institution, this new scholarship focuses on everyday people’s views and experiences — what some call the psychology of property and what we call the idea of property. This article presents a comparative review of empirical research methods that the authors have recently used to study the idea (or psychology) of property and provides evidence drawn from the United States, Canada, and Australia: (i) Stenseth’s work on behavioral economics and property law; (ii) Metcalf’s empirical research drawing on social psychology and behavioral economics; and (iii) the small-scale, qualitative study conducted by Babie, Burdon, and da Rimini. All three studies suggest that individuals hold an idea of property that exists independently from the formal law found in the jurisdiction studied. Moreover, while individuals do appear willing to self-regulate with reference to the environment or for the public good, for the most part people’s idea of property is one that allows for promoting individual desires. Whether this is innate, culturally determined, or both is beyond this article’s scope, but we conclude that this is an important area for future research and investigation.

Keywords: Property Law

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Babie, Paul T. and Burdon, Peter D. and da Rimini, Francesca and Metcalf, Cherie and Stenseth, Geir, The Idea of Property: A Comparative Review of Recent Empirical Research Methods (June 3, 2019). Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies Vol. 26 #2 (Spring 2019); U. of Adelaide Law Research Paper No. 2019-69. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3398022

Paul T. Babie (Contact Author)

Adelaide Law School, The University of Adelaide ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide, South Australia 5005
Australia
+61 8 8313 5521 (Phone)
+61 8 8313 4344 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://researchers.adelaide.edu.au/profile/paul.babie

Peter D. Burdon

University of Adelaide - School of Law ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/peter.d.burdon

Francesca Da Rimini

University of Technology Sydney (UTS) ( email )

15 Broadway
Ultimo
Sydney, New South Wales 2007
Australia
+61 2 9514 9647 (Phone)
+61 2 9514 9651 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uts.edu.au

Cherie Metcalf

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L3N6
Canada

Geir Stenseth

University of Oslo - Department of Private Law ( email )

Karl Johansgt 47
N-0162, Oslo
Norway
+4722859764 (Phone)
+4722859720 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jus.uio.no/ifp/ansattesider/ansatte/stenseth.html

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