Myth, embeddedness and Tradition: Property Rights Perceptions from the Pacific

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
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Adapting Rules for Sustainable Resource Use, 2006, 1, pp. 119 - 134
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This essay is introduced by delving into the myth, embeddedness and tradition that surrounds people's perceptions of property rights. In all societies the property rights of individuals are subject to both political and legal regulation, whether this is by custom, modern legal instruments, or both. In the Pacific there is often a confusion and conflict between constitutional and customary law. Embeddedness, or preconception from prior upbringing, clouds and confuses attitudes to property and land ownership. Is there such a person as a customary landowner in the Pacific Islands or is society actually adopting inappropriate borrowed western language? To answer this question, it is necessary to explore the concept of communalism, which is accepted practice in many Pacific island countries, and investigate how it is, like most things in the Pacific, grounded in relationships.
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