Property and its Consequences

Thursday Jun 03 9:00 am to 10:00 am (Mountain Time)
Virtual 1

Session Code: THE6
Session Format: Regular
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Social Theory
Session Categories: Regular Session

Property is central to the sociologies of Du Bois, Durkheim, Marx, and Weber. Each recognized property as a driver of inequality and social closure. Despite its early canonization, property as a key concept has become siloed, receding into the background, no longer a collective symbol of a common sociological heritage. This panel aims to open up the silo while inviting into the conversation theoretical and substantive areas which are not often included in the sociological study of property. Tags: Equality and Inequality, Politics and Social Movements, Social Theory

Organizers: Blu Buchanan, University of California, Davis, Dean Ray, York University


Nathanael Lauster, University of British Columbia

The Shifting Sovereignty of Property: From Lords of the Land to Landlords (and back again?) in Three Short Steps

I draw from Vancouver history and the legal perspective of property as sovereignty to document shifts in the sovereignty afforded by urban property. Initially through colonial history the landed lords of Vancouver could improve, construct upon, regulate, subdivide, lease, and dispose of their properties with few constraints. Provincial law and municipal incorporation into the City of Vancouver bound lords to one another and a set of ever-growing regulations, stripping away key aspects of sovereignty. I work through three moments in this transformation, including early bylaws, zoning, and residential tenancy regulation. These moved lords of the land closer to landlords, standardizing housing while removing lordly powers to build, regulate, subdivide, and lease as they would. I briefly consider two implications: 1) Evidence suggests that limitations on lordly powers to build and subdivide have dramatically constrained housing options in Vancouver, though semi-illicit persistence of such powers has continued. 2) The stripping of landed sovereignty and municipal (as well as provincial) standardization of housing provides the basis for at least one understanding of the commodification of housing as a process. Finally I describe recent walking back of municipal (and provincial) constraints along with contestation of underlying sovereignty claims by local First Nations.

Blu Buchanan, University of California, Davis

I Too Am A Man: Property, Stigma, and Conservative Gay Politics

This paper explores the relationship between property, the management of stigma, and gay conservative politics. It examines two primary cases, that of the gay libertarians and the national socialist league in the united states - arguing that stigma management primarily occurs through the naturalizing of private property and its attendant social relations. I track down these relations through archival research into the digital and physical remains left behind by these political subjects. Taking these cases as a launching point, i argue that gay sexuality, and gay politics, are continuously inflected by their relationship to private property and its ability to dictate proper citizenship and nationalism. Far from a history that pits queer subjects against capital, i argue that this relationship has been incredibly intimate. Thus, property serves as an emotional and material touchstone for gay American politics, perhaps most prominently in its conservative iterations.