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Conference paper
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Abstract: This autoethnographic narrative (Hesse-Biber and Leavy, 2006, Chiu, 2004, Smith, 2005, Wall, 2006) engages with three dimensions of our contemporary urban ‘commons’ through the lens of property rights and notions of right to the city. It draws on the research findings from a number of transdisciplinary research collaborations, and presents them as a perambulation through the perceived commons of the contemporary city, taking in a shopping trip, a relaxing couple of hours in a park, and some sex. The ‘commons’ of the mall, the park and the night time society are seen as essential to the urban experience, but they are constrained and controlled spaces in our contemporary city. There is a dynamic power and relationship tension between the libertarian city and the operational city. The broader findings in the projects explored in this research serve to provide clarity on those relationships, and expose the reality of the ‘good neighbour’ from a planning and legal geography perspective. This paper engages creative non-fiction to introduce challenging and politically charged issues. It navigates through such tensions by way of a narrative, to give meaning, depth and context by offering a more accessible engagement to the complex real property rights that confront us in the urban milieu. Drawing on several collaborations, the underlying research design is one of phenomenological transdisciplinarity (Nicolescu, 2006, 144), which implies the goal is to build models to connect theory to observed reality, informing potential policy outcomes.

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