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Ownership at stake (once again): housing, digital contents, animals and robots

Sergio Nasarre-Aznar (UNESCO Chair on Housing, University Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain)

Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law

ISSN: 2514-9407

Article publication date: 9 April 2018




This paper aims to discuss the questioning around the current suitability of ownership both for accessing to certain property (housing, to be more specific) and chattels (digital contents, animals and autonomous robots) that have recently flourished, favored by technological advances and the change in the values of the millennials’ in a context of crisis.


The process of substitution (e.g. through alternative housing tenures, such as intermediate tenures and collaborative housing, licensing digital contents) or erosion/elimination (e.g. owning animals and robots, tokenization through blockchain) of ownership through key types of property and chattels.


Ownership, both of land and goods, is again at the stake. Technological advances and/or new values of millennials in a context of crisis have led to questioning the suitability of ownership to favor universal access to housing, of holding music and other digital contents, have limited the faculties of animals’ and pets’ owners and are favoring the evolution of autonomous robots into subjects of law rather than mere objects.

Research limitations/implications

Only key property (housing) and chattels are studied (digital contents, animals, robots). There is no broad study of the global current situation of ownership.

Practical implications

It is discussed how the changes of values and technological advances in a context of crisis have impacted in the strength and reliability of ownership to allow access to property and chattels.

Social implications

These changes in ownership change how we can access to property (housing) and to chattels (digital media) and even to changes in what is considered “object” such as what is happening in Europe with animals and robots.


This is a new approach to consequences of the crisis in the field of housing (fractioning of ownership -temporal and shared ownership-, collaborative economy) and a change of values in the new millennial generation (animals) in this context and owing to the advance of the new technologies (robots). Is ownership again at the stake?



Nasarre-Aznar, S. (2018), "Ownership at stake (once again): housing, digital contents, animals and robots", Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 69-86.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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