Enclosure of the urban commons

Shin Lee, Chris Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


This is an essay about the territorial enclosure of urban neighbourhoods. It develops the argument that the shared public realms that became regarded as normal in the cities of the 20th century are inherently unstable. More particularly, they are an unstable form of co-ownership domain (condominium). In many different cultures and economies new forms of local territorial governance are emerging to make joint consumption more sustainable. Most of the essay is devoted to exploring this evolutionary argument and is theoretically oriented and illustrated with historical examples. We end with illustrations of urban enclosure from China, a country that has had to discover almost overnight new forms of organisational, institutional and spatial order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-42
Number of pages16
JournalGeo Journal
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Commons
  • Enclosure
  • Gated communities
  • Neighbourhoods
  • Property rights
  • Transaction costs


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