Before turning to the main subject of this work, we need to elucidate one key concept that will be our principal research tool throughout the study. At the very outset, a key distinction between legal or juristic on the one hand and socioeconomic approach to property on the other should be outlined. 1 What lies at the heart of the socioeconomic theory of ownership laid out here is that the benefits inherent in the ownership of the factors of economic activity always are, to a lesser or larger extent, gratuitous. The adjective “gratuitous” derives from the Latin word gratuitus, meaning free, freely given, spontaneous. It is precisely for that reason that, referring to the economic notion of rent as an unearned income, our whole approach to property may be called “the rent theory.” 2