To Have and To Hold: The Meaning of Ownership in the United States

Overview

Dr. Neala Schleuning provides a wide-ranging interdisciplinary exploration of the idea of ownership. She focuses primarily on the transition in modes and meaning of ownership since the emergence of the Industrial Revolution. Her primary argument is that the experience of ownership has been one of enclosure, which in turn conflicts with the goals of democratic society. Topics include land ownership, private property in a capitalist society, and the changing nature of ownership in a consumer society. Psychological,...

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Overview

Dr. Neala Schleuning provides a wide-ranging interdisciplinary exploration of the idea of ownership. She focuses primarily on the transition in modes and meaning of ownership since the emergence of the Industrial Revolution. Her primary argument is that the experience of ownership has been one of enclosure, which in turn conflicts with the goals of democratic society. Topics include land ownership, private property in a capitalist society, and the changing nature of ownership in a consumer society. Psychological, political, and social expressions of owning are explored, including the relationship between objects and social status, the nature of human desire and its manipulation, ownership and freedom, and the making of community. Special emphasis is placed on the relationship between the idea of ownership and the control and manipulation of women.

For millenia the idea of ownership was closely tied to the land and to the creative work of individuals living in community with others. The making and sharing of objects between people lies at the core of social and political activity that has changed little over time. In the 17th century, however, ownership began to be transformed from a collective to an individual activity, and from a shared activity to one of exclusion and accumulation. In the late 19th century, ideas of owning shifted again, from the enclosure of land and capital to the personal accumulation of consumer goods.

Based primarily on research in Western culture and the experience of the United States, Dr. Schleuning's book explores the deep social, political, economic, and personal forces shaping and changing the human relationship with the natural and made worlds. This work is important reading for political economists, political scientists, and others concerned with philosophical issues involving property.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Delves into such matters as what it means to own land in the US during the late 20th century and how it might be different from a century or two ago, the construction of desire and social wants in contemporary consumer society, who owns the US, consuming as owning, women as possession, and beyond consumerism. Based on the belief that the more we understand about our attachment to property, the better decisions we can make about the human relationship to the material world and to each other. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275957230
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/30/1997
  • Pages: 256
  • Lexile: 1440L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

NEALA SCHLEUNING, American Studies, is a member of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 What Is Property? 1
2 Who Owns the Land? 35
3 Who Owns the United States? Part I 59
4 Who Owns the United States? Part II 83
5 The Meaning of Ownership 103
6 Consuming As Owning 127
7 Woman As Possession: Images of Owning 153
8 Beyond Consumerism: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness 181
Selected Bibliography 213
Index 235
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