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Property, Private

Jack Barbalet


Property implies ownership, to which rights attach. These rights may take usurpatary, moral, or legal form. The types of things that can be owned as property, and therefore subject to property rights, are enormously varied. Depending on the particular circumstances, they might include, for instance, a human person, a person's capacities (especially for labor), the products of another's labor, any material of use or exchange, land, options, patents, ideas, and so on. The structure of ownership is also variable. In ancient societies, classically described as the “indian village community” in Maine's Ancient Law (1861), co-ownership or communal property prevailed. In peasant societies, on the other hand, the household rather than the community is typically the unit which exercises controlling rights over productive possessions. From early capitalist societies private property arose as the dominant form of ownership in which individual persons exercise rights over their objects of possession. In late capitalist societies corporate and public property forms emerge, combining elements of both communal and private property. Corporate property is communal insofar as ownership rights are shared by a number of proprietors, each of whom can exercise or dispose of their rights as they choose as individuals without collective constraint, and similarly use the benefits of their ownership as ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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