Commoning as Differentiated Publicness

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* Article: Commoning as Differentiated Publicness. By Heidi Sohn, Stavros Kousoulas and Gerhard Bruyns. Introduction by the editors. Footprint Issue#16 Spring 2015. Book: H. Sohn, S. Kousoulas and G. Bruyns, Delft: Architecture Theory Chair in partnership with Stichting Footprint and Techne Press, pp. 1-8



“Contemporary commoning practices do not constitute a mere alternative, but instead comprise a qualitative threshold: a moment of critical differentiation. As such, they call out for the development of a set of renewed methodological, analytical and synthetic tools and devices that are better equipped to understand the in-between as a ‘thirding’: as a form of differentiated publicness. The editorial introduction offers a platform of negotiation, which far from disregarding the already established approaches to the thematic in question, aims at expanding their scope, complementing them with non-dialectical readings. By presenting non-hierarchical understandings of urban practices, as well as fostering the intersection of different trajectories and discourses, the introduction to this issue strives to provide a fertile ground for the encounter of the multidimensional and relational potentials of contemporary commoning practices.”


By Heidi Sohn, Stavros Kousoulas and Gerhard Bruyns:

“The syncretism of contemporary social move- ments and the growing momentum of the commons movement both illustrate the civil distrust of any form of institutional government and the rejection of deep structural categories embodied in the dualities of state/market, public/private, objective/subjec- tive and universal/local. In opposition to politics without a public, what Hine calls a cynical ‘post-modern politics’, the commons movement faces important challenges and opportunities:

- firstly, to liberate politics from the forces of state and market; and secondly (and perhaps more importantly) to assume a renewed role as a viable alternative to the failure of the project of the public – ‘the promise Within this context, the global rise of commons movements in recent years is signicant in two interconnected respects.

Firstly, as David Bollier comments, as a social movement it represents a paradigmatic response or counterpoint to ‘the pathologies of modern markets, government, science and large institutions’.

Secondly, it marks civil society’s growing interest in moving away from conventional politics and public polity and, alternatively, towards formulating pragmatic working systems beyond the frameworks of the market and the state. In this way, new social and political spaces of self-governance, empowerment and self- determination can be opened according to local circumstances and needs. This direction encom- passes an understanding of the commons not only as a resource but also a process and a practice: the practice of commoning.”