Property’s competing values: the public house re-cycled as “community asset”

Publication Date31 Aug 2020
AuthorAnne Barbara Bottomley
SubjectProperty management & built environment,Building & construction,Building & construction law,Real estate & property,Property law
Propertys competing values: the
public house re-cycled as
community asset
Anne Barbara Bottomley
Department of Law, Kent Law School, Canterbury, UK
Purpose This paper aims to investigatethe potential of the image-ideaof a circular economyfor re-
thinking property in law: In particular, to develop a strategy for making visible alternative property
practicesof community ownership across the subject areas of business and property law, to enhance the
visibilityof models of community ownership and interrogate their potential.
Design/methodology/approach Case study research was undertaken into three public houses to
investigate the ways in which the orthodoxiesof property and ownership in the academy are challenged by
evidenceof alternative property practicesin the community.
Findings Using this approach renders visible tensions between the logics of economic value and social
asset, carried in processes of abstraction and materiality, and mediated within the eld of property by the
developmentof techniques for holding property as title and benet.It reveals the ways in which propertyas
idea, practiceand technique is used by people seeking to disrupt or defend against the economic logicof prot
and investment. It raises questions concerning how property and law is imaged in the academy and it
introducesone way of using an image-idea to open new perspectivesand potential.
Research limitations/implications These implications emerge: the partiality of orthodox accounts of
property; the importance of thinking property in terms of life-cycle and logics ecologies, eld and techniques; how
a model-theory derived from one discipline can be repurposed, in a second life, in an other discipline as an image-
ideato refresh the host discipline; the signicance of investigating community assetswithin and for property
law and the needfor more research into alternative property practicesand the importance of case studies.
Practical implications An enhanced knowledge of the development and potential of community
assetswithinthe academy, and of the potential to promote and support alternative propertypracticeswith
the requisite legal skills and techniques alongside a consideration of the limits of formal law in terms of
policy expectations.
Social implications The research is of value to communityactivists in thinking how law can be used to
support community development in terms of holding community assets; and the limitations of formal law
which then requiresan embedded approach considering how the developmentof practices and narratives can
supportcommunity initiatives in relation to propertyheld for community benet.
Originality/value There has been very little coverage of community assetswithin legal research,
especiallymoving across business and property as subject areas, and no coverageon public houses taken into
community ownership.This paper combines an introduction to the relevant legal forms with a consideration
of the use of them in practice:considering, in particular, how practices and narrativesdeployed by and within
the community think and presentpropertyas a means by which to counter the economic logic of prot. All
this is made possible through the use of case-studiesmade visible by the utilization of the image-idea of the
circular economy used here not as a model-theory, but rather as an aid to opening thinking into new
territoriesaccessed through new perspectives.
Keywords Community, Localism, Co-operatives, Benet, Ecologies of value, Mutuals
Paper type Research paper
With thanks to Trevor Bottomley, Alison Clarke, Katrien Steenmans and the two anonymous
Received8 April 2020
Revised14 July 2020
Accepted15 July 2020
Journalof Property, Planning and
Vol.12 No. 3, 2020
pp. 251-266
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JPPEL-04-2020-0019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Introduction: circulation of image-ideas
New ideas benet from strong images, especially when they challenge well-entrenched
orthodoxies. To open space for new perspectives, a strong visual image and/or distinctive
verbal by-line is a major asset. The use of evocative imagery to prole academic scholarship
may well be a reection, in part, of the contemporary visual (and virtual) cultural environment
within which ideas compete in an increasingly crowded market. Certainly, branding ideas with
strong images or by-lines increases their potential mobility for marketing purposes. An
example is doughnut economics(Raworth, 2017): a radical challenge to the orthodox
economists presumption that market growth is a necessity for economic viability. The simple
design device of the doughnutencapsulates the argument and carries the added value of
facilitating wide, popularist recognition. The image circulates, inviting an engagement with the
ideas it has been deployed to represent and prole.
Another example is the circular economy(CE), a strong image built in contra-
distinction to the orthodoxy of an economy gured as lineal (Thomas, 2019). In contrast to
the single origin story for doughnuteconomics, the notion of a CE evolved over a period and
across the work of a number of scholars, disciplines and activists (Jackson, 1993;Thomas,
2019). Themes and approaches which contributed towards the development of the image-
idea of a CE became consolidated into a key brand of/for theCE through its adoption by
the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2013),when they commissioned and promoted Towards
the Circular Economy: Economic and Business Rationale for an Accelerated Transitionin
2013. This seminal report focused circular economics on waste elimination strategies
designed to promotebio-sustainability, underpinned by strong economicmodelling.
Both examples achieved a prole through deployment of image as much as strength of
argument; but both were,necessarily, judged in terms of their potential in/througheconomic
modelling. Whereas the doughnut economy is a direct challenge to the core of orthodox
economics, criticshave argued that the CE is too accepting of standard economic models and
therefore not as radically alternative, or even corrective, as suggested by many supporters
(Corvellec, 2015). Judgement of economic validity depends upon debates within economics,
and it is important to rememberthis when models premised within an economic framingare
received in(to) other disciplines. However, as with Ostroms defence of the commons
(Ostrom, 1990) as an economicallyvalid model, it is not simply an economic argument which
is carried in the concerns and principles which runs through each of these challenges to
orthodoxy. All open a space making visible and engaging with issues, concerns and
principles which established orthodoxies have been closed to or refused. They maybe little
more than a corrective (albeit an important one) but may prove to be a radical challenge
which begins to draw out and shape an alternative economics. What is at stake is
overcoming the impact entrenched thinking has on our ability to recognize (let alone
investigate and interrogate) difference and potential through the privileging of what is
actually a partial world-view but presented as if so complete that it operates as if
ontologically foundationaland unproblematically denitional.
As economic models, doughnuts, circles and commons will be judged within economics.
However, there is a surplus carried in their strong images which gives them a prole not
limited by/to an economic framing: They are all evocative challenges to/for thinking
differently over a range of subjectareas and disciplines.
The use of images in scholarshipranges across a spectrum which, on the one hand, uses
image to illustrate an alreadyproven argument or thesis, through to imaging used as part of
the process of creative, investigative thinking.The latter I call image-ideaand the former
model-theory:neither term is elegant, but it indicates a distinction which is crucial in terms
of how image in scholarship is used [1]. Model-theory, carried for instance in diagram or

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