Manufacturing the Commons: enterprise and commons solutions to social and ecological problems.

Authors: Stephen Healy*, University of Western Sydney, Institute for Culture and Society
Topics: Economic Geography, Social Theory, Cultural Ecology
Keywords: manufacturing, social and ecological concerns,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon A1, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Legal theorist Simon Deakin offers an alternative legal theorization of corporate enterprise as a commons. His argument hinges upon a foundational aspect of corporate law which endows the enterprise with a fictional personality, capable of signing contracts, holding property, and conducting enterprise through time. The corporate form holds together precisely because of this ownership, no other party including shareholders can make pro-rata claims on corporate assets. But as a consequence it also becomes it plausible to claim that “no-body” owns the assets that comprise the enterprise. On this basis he argues that one could also conceive of the corporation as a commons used and managed for the benefit of multiple constituencies but own by nobody. In this paper I ask what difference might it make to understand the enterprise as a commons? Beyond stakeholder arguments, theorising the enterprise as a commons allows us to identify a politics around the access, use, definition of benefit and stewardship in the context of the enterprise and in relation to the larger community. In a current research project with colleagues we explore the future of manufacturing in Australia focusing on two questions—can there be a future where manufacturing-power helps us to address shared ecological and social concerns? And how does Deakin’s concept of the enterprise commons enable the integration of ecological and social concerns into the governing ethos of the enterprise?

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