The workshop will examine the role of political concepts in shaping institutions of land governance and ownership. The aim is to trace the influence of seemingly abstract concepts on the policies and practices that determine how land is owned, used, conserved, taxed and developed. The main objective is to expose the assumptions and biases that are encoded in these concepts to better understand their role in framing problems and solutions to pressing and contested political problems relating to land. These include: how to best use, manage, distribute and protect our land for current and future generations of humans and more-than-humans.
The land question is back on the political agenda. There are growing and competing demands on land arising from urbanisation, food (in)security, restoration of biodiversity loss, carbon storage and land demand for renewable energy (EEA, 2021; Winkler et al., 2021). This has led the European Commission to call on member states to set land-take targets (European Commission, 2023) and there is a renewed global focus on land ownership and distributions of wealth in land (OECD/Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2022; Shrubsole, 2019). The time is therefore right to explore the deep politics of this developing agenda by exposing the conceptual contestations shaping it.
Political concepts – such as property, liberty, justice, nature – are deeply embedded in contemporary debates concerning land policy (Shepherd, 2020). However, specialist scholarship on land policy tends to reside mainly in the disciplines of urban studies, geography, law and planning. There is a need to bring this literature into closer dialogue with political science and its tools for the elucidation of political concepts (Schaffer, 2016). By doing so, we may expose how these concepts and their contested meanings are embedded in policy design and the institutions (Schmidt, 2010) that shape land policy and development outcomes. This could involve tracing conceptual histories and their manifestations in contemporary land policy debates, as well as analysing the ideological struggles over the proper meaning of relevant concepts (Freeden, 1996) and how these shape land policy outcomes. The workshop will be tightly focused on the deep politics of land debates.
EEA (European Environment Agency) (2021). Land take and land degradation in functional urban areas, EEA Report No 17/2021. https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/land-take-and-land-degradation
European Commission (2021). EU Soil Strategy for 2030: Reaping the benefits of healthy soils for people, food, nature and climate. Brussels, 17.11.21, COM(2021) 699. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52021DC0699
Freeden, M. (1996). Ideologies and political theory: A conceptual approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
OECD/Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, PKU-Lincoln Institute Center (2022). Global Compendium of Land Value Capture Policies, OECD Regional Development Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/4f9559ee-en
Schaffer, F.C. (2016). Elucidating social science concepts: An interpretivist guide. New York: Routledge.
Shepherd, E. (2020). Liberty, property and the state: The ideology of the institution of English town and country planning. Progress in Planning, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.progress.2018.09.001
Schmidt, V. (2010). Taking ideas and discourse seriously: Explaining change through discursive institutionalism as the fourth ‘new institutionalism’. European Political Science Review, 2(1): 1 – 25, https://doi.org/10.1017/S175577390999021X
Shrubsole, G. (2019). Who owns England? How we lost our green and pleasant land and how to take it back. London: William Collins
Winkler, K., Fuchs, R., Rounsevell, M. (2021). Global land use changes are four times greater than previously estimated. Nat Commun 12, 2501 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22702-2
1: What forms of analysis are appropriate to the study of political concepts in public policy, including land policy?
2: What theories are appropriate to the study of political concepts in shaping political action in relation to land?
3: What role does conceptual history play in contemporary understandings of key questions in land policy?
4: What political concepts are of importance to the framing of key questions in contemporary land policy and why?
5: How are the meanings of concepts core to key questions in contemporary land policy evolving and to what effect?
1: The relationship between concepts of land ownership and environmental and development outcomes.
2: The competing ideologies of property in land and its forms of ownership.
3: Conceptual differences in international comparisons of institutions of land governance.
4: The relationship between land ownership and environmental outcomes via the development process.
5: Decolonisation of property theory and its implications for land policy.
6: The ideologies of land policy.
7: How mainstream land policy discourse can act to de-politicise the land question.
8: The role of political concepts in constructions of the housing crisis.