Opening alternative economic and social outcomes through community land ownership in Scotland

Authors: Michael Bacon*, University of Virginia
Topics: Environment, Urban and Regional Planning, Europe
Keywords: Community economies, Scotland, forestry, community land trusts, land reform
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Roosevelt 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The community land ownership movement in Scotland began as a grassroots movement, and its organizational structure continues to be highly localized. In many of the newly community owned spaces, demographic and economic regeneration have occurred in part through development of new management practices and construction of renewable energy projects. Emerging as it did during a period of neoliberal dominance in UK governance, community land trusts have increasingly taken on the role of local government agencies. As legal and financial support from the newly devolved Scottish national government has greatly expanded the scope of the movement, the process of asset transfer of state assets to community trusts has also expanded, at times leading to concerns of abuse in offloading state-owned liabilities. In this paper, I draw upon mixed method research from rural Scotland to examine divergent success, stability, and other development outcomes among community trusts. In particular, I find that affective ties between local residents and critical portions of the landscape appear to determine the long-term success and structure of community land trusts. The affective ties are often expressed through the logics of care articulated by post-capitalist feminist geographers, and form around common property regimes, including both formal and informal arrangements. These regimes, which I term binding commons, have created green power grids, new forestry practices, local produce production, and enforced stronger environmental protections on extractive industries. These arrangements demonstrate the potential for commons regimes, driven by affective, care-centric ties to open new possibilities in neoliberalized economies.

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