Who wrote; “What is Property”? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

What is Property


Question: Who wrote; “What is Property”?

  1. Karl Marx
  2. Godwin
  3. Proudhon 
  4. Bakunin

Answer: (3)

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon:

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865) was a French philosopher, economist, and politician. Born into a working-class family, Proudhon’s early experiences shaped his views on socio-economic structures and inequality. His works, including “What is Property?” published in 1840, established him as a prominent figure in political theory.

“What is Property?” and the Notion of Theft:

Proudhon’s declaration, “Property is theft!” encapsulates a key theme in his work. To fully comprehend this statement, it’s essential to explore Proudhon’s definition of property. Proudhon was not categorically against possession but questioned the legitimacy of absolute, exclusive ownership. His argument revolves around the idea that such ownership deprives others and creates an unjust distribution of resources.

According to Proudhon, in a communal world, everything should belong to everyone. The concept of property as theft emerges when individuals claim exclusive rights to resources and means of production. Proudhon believed that this unjust appropriation perpetuates inequality and exploitation.

Anarchy and the End of the State:

Proudhon’s philosophy extends beyond critiques of property; it encompasses a vision of a society without a centralized state. His goal, shared with other political movements like Marxism and anarchism, was the abolition of the state. Proudhon envisioned a society where individuals would organize themselves without the need for a governing authority.

Henri Lefebvre, a French Marxist philosopher, emphasized the convergence of Proudhon’s goals with those of Marxism. The common thread lies in the aspiration for the end of the state, reflecting a shared critique of hierarchical power structures.

Reception and Influence:

Despite the controversy surrounding Proudhon’s ideas, he garnered attention and acclaim. The New York Times described him as an “incomparable logician” and “one of the most vigorous thinkers of the age.” Proudhon’s disciples regarded him as a master of the new politics and a prophet of modern society.

In the realm of anarchism, Proudhon is often hailed as the first self-proclaimed anarchist and the founder of classic anarchist thinking. His ideas laid the groundwork for subsequent anarchist theorists and movements. The influence of Proudhon’s work extends beyond his contemporaries, shaping discussions on property, inequality, and the role of the state in society.

Misconceptions Surrounding “Property is Theft!”:

Proudhon’s famous statement, “Property is theft,” has been subject to misconstrual. Ruth Kinna, a political theorist, clarifies that Proudhon refers to the constitutional right to exclusive ownership. The theft, in this context, lies in the deprivation of others’ ownership rights. Proudhon argues that the establishment of principles justifying unequal ownership leads to the dispossession of some individuals who become reliant on the owners for their well-being.

Understanding this nuance is crucial to appreciating the depth of Proudhon’s critique. It goes beyond a simple denouncement of property; it questions the foundations of a system that allows for the concentration of resources in the hands of a few.

Legacy and Contemporary Relevance:

Proudhon’s ideas continue to resonate in contemporary discussions on anarchism, socialism, and critiques of capitalism. The relevance of his work is evident in ongoing debates about economic justice, property rights, and the role of the state. Scholars and activists alike engage with Proudhon’s writings to draw inspiration and insights for addressing contemporary socio-political challenges.


In conclusion, the answer to the MA CUET exam question about “What is Property?” is Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. This exploration has provided a comprehensive understanding of Proudhon’s life, ideas, and the context in which he wrote his seminal work. Proudhon’s critique of property as theft and his vision of a society without a centralized state have left an indelible mark on political thought. As we reflect on his legacy, it becomes evident that Proudhon’s ideas remain relevant and continue to inspire discussions on justice, equality, and the nature of authority in society.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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