Common ownership

Common ownership refers to holding the assets of an organization, enterprise or community indivisibly rather than in the names of the individual members or groups of members as common property.

Forms of common ownership exist in every economic system. Common ownership of the means of production is a central goal of communist political movements as it is seen as a necessary democratic mechanism for the creation and continued function of a communist society. Advocates make a distinction between collective ownership and common property as the former refers to property owned jointly by agreement of a set of colleagues, such as producer cooperatives, whereas the latter refers to assets that are completely open for access, such as a public park freely available to everyone.[1][2]


While virtually all societies have elements of common ownership, societies have existed where common ownership extended to essentially all possessions. Another term for this arrangement is a "gift economy" or communalism.[citation needed] Many nomadic societies effectively practiced common ownership of land.[citation needed]



Marxist theory (specifically Friedrich Engels) holds that hunter-gatherer societies practiced a form of primitive communism as based on common ownership on a subsistence level.[citation needed]

By Christian Societies

The first church in Jerusalem shared all their money and possessions (Acts of the Apostles 2 and 4).[3][4] Inspired by the Early Christians, many Christians have since tried to follow their example of community of goods and common ownership. Common ownership is practiced by some Christian groups such as the Hutterites (for about 500 years), the Bruderhof (for some 100 years) and others.[5] In those cases, property is generally owned by a charity set up for the purpose of maintaining the members of the religious groups.[6][7]

Other Languages