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August 3, 2010

Learn from the past as we look to the future

Emerging from the debris of the financial crisis comes a renewed interest and attachment to some very old ideas.  Both at Westminster and Holyrood, the principles of cooperation, mutuality and co-production are now being lauded as the business model of the future – particularly for the delivery of public services.  Fascinating report from JRF outlining the historical development of community and mutual ownership

Policy-makers have identified that community and mutual ownership can make a significant contribution to the economy, welfare and society more generally. A historical analysis of social change can inform contemporary understanding, policy and practice.

This study charts the historical development of ownership of land, resources, businesses and services. It identifies models of community and mutual ownership and draws out implications for addressing social problems and meeting new needs.

Key points
•  Modern ideas and practices of ownership took a long time to develop, and were based on the enclosure of common land, the emergence of concentrated private ownership and the enlargement of state activity, both through regulation and the direct ownership of resources and services. These long-term historical transformations were not inevitable processes with a fixed outcome.
•  The project identified five models of ‘community and mutual’ ownership:  customary and common; community; co-operative and mutual; charitable; and municipal and state ownership.
•  There is a contemporary opportunity for community and mutual ownership to help meet needs relating to the economy, welfare provision, society in general, and the environment.
•  However, new forms of democracy, membership and belonging cannot be created overnight. In the past, community and mutual ownership was built up over a long time and depended upon the growth of popular participation and associated feelings of ownership.
•  Nurturing community and mutual ownership requires a coherent and systematic approach, based on a clear set of values, if it is to realise its full potential.
Summary  Download as PDF, 4 pages, 0.11 MB