Micropolitics and property



Houle, Karen L. F.

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University of Guelph


This thesis is an investigation of the feasibility of a micropolitical analysis as an evaluative scheme for the analysis of property. The limitations of historical and normative frameworks are discussed. The ontological features of power as understood by Filmer and Locke are compared, and these, to a Foucauldian view of power. The Foucauldian view of power is a better tool of analysis since it reveals and explains more features of "property", including the way that a Lockean conception of property and power, as a point of authority, affects the discourse of property itself. Using a personal and an historical example of the private/public distinction, I establish that these are relational terms built up by various rules of inclusion and exclusion, not upon any prior ground. In particular, I highlight how the production of knowledge functions as one of the conduits in or out of domains; that is, the public and the private are domains of expertise or authority on property. Individuals occupy subjectivities available within the discourse of property which position them, or allow them to position others, as having legitimate or illegitimate relations to property. I show how these subjectivities are the central functional feature of the possibility of normativity. That is to say, whether and how forms of property relations can be evaluated depends on the production of forms of judgment which a subject position makes possible, in form and in content. I ask how present subject positions within the domains of tangible and intangible property work to extend or delimit these domains as moral, political or economic ones. The possibilities of judgment and of freedom from judgment as formal strategies of 4 distinct regimes of power are enumerated, offering an evaluative framework. I ask what, in the domain of property, these 4 regimes offer as formal possibilities for freedom, fairness, and equality. Lastly, I explore Deleuze's concepts of the rhizome and the arborescent with a similar view to reading property as a question of one kind of line rather than another. Finally, I generate from this critical cartography, and bearing in mind the examples of pregnancy and potlatch, a number of responsible strategies one could make from the subject positions identified.



micropolitical analysis, property, analysis of property