Property Rights, Entrepreneurship and Transaction Costs
Edited by David Emanuel Andersson and Stefano Moroni
Chapter 3: Towards a general theory of contractual communities: neither necessarily gated, nor a form of privatization
Over the past 20 years there has been a great deal of scholarly interest in the phenomenon of homeowner associations, as well as related interest in co-housing, commons, and other non-governmental planning phenomena. What tends to happen is that each of these phenomena is dealt with individually, that is, independently of one another; furthermore, in many cases they are treated as if they instantiate completely different–at times even conflicting–issues. The aim of this chapter is to move towards a general theory of contractual communities; that is, a theory that takes account of this assortment of discrete phenomena as inter-related issues that are by no means at odds with one another. In the next section, I propose a definition of ‘contractual community.’ In the following section, I identify the three main types of this kind of community. In short, there are ten similarities and two principal differences among forms of contractual community. The penultimate section proposes a non-ideological interpretation of the emergence and spread of contractual communities. In the conclusion, I stress the importance of the institutional dimension of contractual communities and the role of competition among different types of community.
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