Reconceptualising property: Towards a sustainable paradigm for property

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Book Chapter

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Page, J. (2011). Reconceptualising property: Towards a sustainable paradigm for property. In P. Carruthers, S. Mascher & N. Skead (Eds.), Property and Sustainability: Selected Essays (pp 25-38). Pyrmont, NSW: Thompson Reuters (Professional) Australia Limited.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 180124, 180111

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The conceptualisation of property may seem esoteric or remote from the practical imperative of the sustainability of human landscapes. Yet how we "see" property has important consequences for how we treat our landscape and its resources. Rather than being constrained by existing paradigms, alternative re-conceptualisations present fresh opportunities for property to reconnect with place and the physicality of our surroundings, and in the process remove the shackles of abstraction. Rather than being seen as a bundle of metaphorical, dephysicalised rights, a more inclusive and social articulation of property may site property in context, and promote property's role in the sustainable use and enjoyment of the interconnected resources that comprise human landscapes. This chapter will begin by canvassing three formative propositions that influenced my early thoughts on the intersection of property and the human environment: first that property can and should play a larger role in landscape sustainability; second that we should strive to rediscover the "seeing' of property in landscapes (in ways envisaged by American property jurist Carol Rose); and third that certain fundamentals of modern property (in particular private property's right to exclude) are well past their use-by date. It will then examine the plurality of property, and expansive concept that informs these three formative propositions, before concluding with a number of non-exhaustive reasons why property plurality, and the diversity that this engenders, has potential implications for landscape sustainability.

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