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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lehavi on Fennell's Unbounded Home

Amnon Lehavi (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliyah - Radzyner School of Law) has posted Is Law Unbounded? Property Rights and Control of Social Groupings on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This review essay follows up on a suggested model for resolving problems of neighborhood externalities and exclusionary associational patterns in today's metropolitan areas through a property rights regime of "alienable entitlements," as articulated by Lee Anne Fennell in The Unbounded Home (2009). The essay frames the model as promoting a groundbreaking approach to the fundamental quandary over the role of law as a tool for broad-based social change, which has been at the center of the law and society literature.

The essay asks if legal rules can fully absorb the multiple types of societal effects that influence the nature of contemporary homeownership. It then assesses more pointedly the normative desirability of controlling metropolitan-wide social exclusion through alienable property entitlements, identifying an internal tension between Fennell's support for a market-like process and her pursuit of an objective ideal that impacts the analysis. The essay concludes by suggesting that even if one accepts the tentative blueprint for addressing social engineering issues through alienable legal entitlements, it is unclear if such an approach would practically change the ways in which the social dynamics of groupings and exclusion currently take place.

This analysis aims at offering broader insights for socio-legal inquiries beyond the above particular themes of examination. Its central arguments are not limited to a certain ideological perspective - be it the promotion of social justice or of utilitarianism - or to a particular type of social concern. The essay aspires to broadly illuminate the complex ties between law and social studies, and the boundaries of law in controlling social conduct.

Ben Barros

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