Property ownership, resource use, and the ‘gift of nature’

Neil Ravenscroft, Andrew Church, Paul Gilchrist, B. Heys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through a theoretical and empirical consideration of gift exchange, this paper argues that those with legal interests in land have constructed property relations around a claim of reciprocity with nature. This has been used to legitimate the ways in which they have deployed their property power to exclude others, thus seeking to retain their dominion over both humans and non-humans. In so doing, however, such interests have failed to understand the dynamic of gift relationships, with their inherent inculcation of subject and other, to the point where the exercise of power becomes contingent on the continued hegemony of property relations. Using the politics of recreational access to inland waters in England and Wales, the paper shows that power – over both humans and non-humans – is temporary and conditional in ways that are not fully theorised in most contemporary debates about property rights and their deployment on non-human subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-466
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • gift exchange
  • property rights
  • hegemony
  • access to water
  • nature–society relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Property ownership, resource use, and the ‘gift of nature’'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this