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The Borrowed View: Privacy, Propriety, and the Entanglements of Property

  • Nicholas Blomley


A dominant characterization celebrates property as a means to attain privacy and autonomy. Drawing on recent scholarship, I compare this idea with a proprietarian perspective, which emphasizes the ways in which private ownership comes freighted with public responsibilities. The garden, I shall argue, reveals both dimensions to property. Drawing from gardening debates over the past century and an empirical survey of gardening in Vancouver, Canada, I conclude by arguing, first, that the ends of property are more diverse than we suppose, and second, that these two conceptions should in fact be thought of not as incompatible and opposed, but as entangled and interrelated. While judicial and academic evaluations tend to rely on a binary view of property, so that privacy and propriety seem to live in different spaces, my findings suggest a more fluid cohabitation.

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