The Spatial Justice of the Commons

  • Rocco de Campos Pereira, R. C. (Speaker)
  • Nicola Tollin (Speaker)
  • Ombretta Caldarice (Speaker)
  • Sara Meerow (Speaker)
  • Stefano Cozzolino (Speaker)
  • Simone Mangili (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a workshop, seminar, course or other meeting


The lecture delves into spatial justice as a crucial element for social sustainability and resilience. It does so by exploring the intersection between justice and space through the ‘tragedy of the commons’ as explained by Hardin in his 1968 article. The ‘tragedy of the commons’ unveils crucial environmental and social impacts of the rational pursuit of self-interest by economic actors, and exposes the tragedy of resource exhaustion if self-interest is pursued mindlessly and free of societal control. It also reveals the challenges surrounding the just redistribution of the fruits of human activity, and how this redistribution is decided upon. These challenges are discussed through the lenses of Ostrom’s theories on the governance of the commons and Fainstein’s propositions on the just city. These two authors are used here to illuminate how the injustices built into the tragedy of the commons can and are customarily solved through communicative rationality and public justification. Finally, Healey’s ideas on the communicative turn in spatial planning are brought in to bridge Ostrom’s and Fainstein’s ideas into spatial planning theory. It concludes by stating that despite the obvious challenges presented by powerful interests overriding the conditions for spatial justice in the city, there is still great potential in participatory systems of public justification and reasoning to pursue just outcomes in the distribution of spatial benefits and burdens of urban development.
Period29 Oct 2020
Held atPolitecnico di Torino, Italy
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • spatial justice
  • social sustainability
  • theory of justice
  • the commons
  • the tragedy of the commons
  • rational choice theory
  • social choice theory
  • communicative planning
  • governance of the commons
  • government by discussion
  • communicative rationality
  • public reasoning