Policy Press

Property in Contemporary Capitalism

By Paddy Ireland

Published

Jul 31, 2024

Page count

208 pages

ISBN

978-1529238143

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Jul 31, 2024

Page count

208 pages

ISBN

978-1529235784

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Jul 31, 2024

Page count

208 pages

ISBN

978-1529235791

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press

Published

Jul 31, 2024

Page count

208 pages

ISBN

978-1529235791

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Bristol University Press
Property in Contemporary Capitalism

Amid the shift towards neoliberalism and the privatization of resources, this book provides a radical new lens to view property and property theory.

Boldly challenging the conventional theories of property law that have shaped our understanding for centuries, leading expert Paddy Ireland explores the rise and growth of new intangible property forms; the nature of ‘investment’ and of property-as-capital; and the empirical realities of modern property.

Raising broader questions about ownership in society, the author ignites a powerful conversation about the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, forcing us to confront that our current property system bears considerable responsibility for the current ‘polycrisis.

This groundbreaking work will set the agenda for a new era in property theory.

"In this significant new book, which contains a powerful rebuttal of the ‘truth’ of law and economics, Ireland turns his gaze toward what that other great heretical Marxist, E P Thompson, called ‘logics of process’, understanding property relations in terms of historically specific economic and social dynamics." Emilios Christodoulidis, University of Glasgow

"This book exposes the flaws of mainstream theories of property and deftly explains the complexities of ownership that characterise today’s financialised, extractive, debt-based economies. It challenges reformers content with addressing capitalism's surface issues, urging for a deeper systemic change." Anna Chadwick, University of Glasgow

"This is an absorbing and important book, essential reading for anyone interested in what property is and how it works. It gives a fascinating and highly persuasive account of the fundamental mismatch between the notion of property as assumed by mainstream property theory and as it actually exists in contemporary capitalism." Alison Clarke, University of Surrey

Paddy Ireland is Professor of Law at the University of Bristol.

1 Introduction

2 From Thing-Ownership to Bundle of Rights to Social Relation

Property as thing-ownership: the Blackstonian conception

'Heroic reification': creating objects of property

The conceptual limitations of ‘property’ and ‘ownership’

The rise of property as thing- ownership

From bundle of rights to social relation

Vanishing into thin air: property as a ‘conceptual mirage’

3 The Dual Nature of Property 39

The revolution in property: institutionalising modern property

Private property, individual autonomy and identity

Personal possessions versus productive resources

Capital, capitalist and capitalism

Property as capital

The reconceptualisation of the joint stock company share

4 Profiting from the Efforts of Others

Capital and investment

Profiting from the ownership of productive resources

The rise of ‘rentierism’

The new enclosures

Profiting from debt

The distribution of wealth and capital

The gender, racial and inter-generational dimensions of wealth inequality

Ownership of public debt

Rising private wealth, declining public wealth

Speculating on the future

5 Defending the Property Status Quo: Analytical Jurisprudence

The new essentialism: reviving property as thing-ownership

The ubiquity of property institutions

The dangers of abstraction

Dominium in Roman law

The idea of property in law

6 Defending the Property Status Quo: Law and Economics

The modern corporation and the threat to shareholder rights

Social democracy and the socialised corporation

Defending the rentier: the market for corporate control

Contractual theories of the corporation: reprivatising the public company

The fictional corporation rematerialises

The rise of financialised corporate governance

Information cost theories of property

Facilitating the market: functionalism and efficiency

Property rights as ‘special’

7 Property in Contemporary Capitalism

Universalising capitalism

Historicising property: private property and capitalism

Creating property-as-capital

Prioritising the investor interest

The new aristocracy of finance

Containing democracy: the ‘new constitutionalism’

Derisking new property

Neoliberal ideology versus neoliberal practice

8 Property and Social Transformation

Property as a historical category

Thing-ownership, bundles of rights or social relation?

The social relational dimensions of property

Bringing capitalism back in

Capitalism’s logic of process

The moral logic of capitalism

Changing the logic: gradual transformative change?

Bibliography

Index