Private Property and Political Power

Yara Al Salman

Yara Al Salman worked on the project as a PhD candidate from 2017 to 2021. She is now an assistant professor at Utrecht University, having defended her PhD dissertation in 2022 (cum laude). Yara has a Bachelor in Liberal Arts and Sciences with a focus on sociology, law and politics from Amsterdam University College (awarded summa cum laude) and a Master in Political Theory from the London School of Economics (awarded with Distinction).

Her subproject focused on group ownership. What is group ownership, and what makes it a valuable institution? In her dissertation, Yara argues that group ownership is the exclusive position of authority, held by a group, to determine how an object may be used, within limits set by law. Think, for instance, of bounded geographical communities sharing a natural resource, but also of unbounded groups using intangible resources together, like Wikipedia.

She focused her research on group ownership institutions where the group is private and internally democratically organised. Such institutions, she argues, are valuable when and because they put people in charge of their own empowerment. She develops a conception of basic non-domination – a key value in republican political theory – to evaluate group ownership and show its comparative advantages to other institutions. Her theory shows that this institution should get far more attention than it does now.