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Collective ownership is the ownership of property by all members of a group. The breadth or narrowness of the group can range from a whole society to a set of coworkers in a particular enterprise (such as one collective farm). In the latter (narrower) sense the term is distinguished from common ownership and the commons, which implies open-access, the holding of assets in common, and the negation of ownership as such.
Collective ownership of the means of production is the defining characteristic of socialism, where "collective ownership" can refer to society-wide ownership or to cooperative ownership by an organization's members. When contrasted with public ownership, "collective ownership" commonly refers to group ownership (such as a producer cooperative).
There are three broad forms of property ownership – private, public, and collective (cooperative). Under private ownership, the three ownership rights ultimately belong to individuals, subject to limitations of disposition, use, and earnings. Under public ownership, these rights belong to the state. With collective ownership, property rights belong to the members of the collective.
Socialism is an economic system characterized by state or collective ownership of the means of production, land, and capital.
According to these definitions, socialism can be a theoretical or political idea that advocates a particular way of organizing economic and political life. It can be an actual economic system in which the state owns and controls resources, or it can be a system of collective or group ownership of property.