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Homelessness, Property Rights, and Institutional Logics

11 June 2018
Publication Type: Working Paper
JEL Code: K00, K11, Z13

We explore whether there is evidence of property rights amongst the homeless, and if so, how these rights are governed. We show that although the homeless are able to derive some value from assets, and can exclude other members of their community, these rights are precarious and dependent upon state agents not seizing the “property” and overriding the community’s rules of the game. The transferring of assets are especially curtailed. We demonstrate the intersectionality of claims with respect to the same physical property from the varying perspectives of the claimants involved and how this differs depending on the property. Homeless people rely on a community logic to develop rules of the game which results in the appearance of a market logic. In the absence of formal institutions effectively operating in their spaces, they have constituted social norms which provide some semblance of property rights which are respected within the group.

Series title: Working paper 750
1 June 2018
Journal: Socio-Economic Review 2018
17 July 2018
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