Manufactured Commons: Collective Ownership and Differential Commoning
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This thesis grapples with the emergence and details of collective ownership in the midst of ‘actually existing neoliberalism’. While the two chapters are each designed to stand alone – with the intention of eventually submitting them for publication – together they offer a broader analysis of propertarian and socio-spatial issues operating in some manufactured housing cooperatives. The first chapter, “From Crisis to Cooperative: Expressing a Collective Right to Shared Equity and Governance in Manufactured Housing Communities,” considers converging social, political and economic relations within manufactured housing cooperatives. Here, I highlight the opportunities of, and challenges to, this ownership model in the midst of what might be considered a housing affordability – or even housing privatization – crisis. Specifically in this chapter, I consider how the members of three manufactured housing communities are exerting their (collective) right to housing, negotiating the relationship between private and shared equity, and developing a culture of democratic governance. Along with a renewed interest in property in general, there is also recently more attention to ‘the commons’ in the geographic literature. Much of this discourse tends to be framed in terms of defending against the enclosures of neoliberal globalization, where the commons have become a reactive rather than a proactive category. However, some geographers are starting to (re)imagine the commons as “generative spacing,”. In this vision, rather than a static and bounded space or resource, the commons is an active process of spacing or continually reconceptualizing space, place and social relations. It is this commoning – or “doing” of the commons – and what it means for the everyday production of socio-spatial relations that I explore in the second chapter, “Beyond Tragedy: Differential commoning in a manufactured housing cooperative.” Specifically, I consider one manufactured housing cooperative as an enactment of ‘an actually existing commons,’. In doing so, I highlight elements of the nitty-gritty, essential relations that are constantly being (re)negotiated in this particular commons. This allows me to reframe the commons as a space of complex becoming and seemingly paradoxical relations. The struggle to collectivize in this instance, I suggest, illustrates the need for situated engagements with commoning practices – particularly within the context of multifaceted socio-economic concerns, unsmoothly circulating knowledges and shifting relations to property – rather than investigations operating within the rigidity of economic rationality or the homogeneity of some imagined community. In this context, I consider the possibility of differential commoning and how this set of practices might contribute to political mobilization and alternative modes of social reproduction.