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The egalitarian battlefield: Reflections on the origins of majority rule in archaic Greece

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  • Pitsoulis, Athanassios
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    Abstract

    We explore the emergence of formal institutions of majority rule in archaic Greece from a historical and conflict-theoretic perspective. Referring to ancient and modern sources we first conclude that institutions of majority rule entered Greek collective decision-making in the seventh century BC. We argue that this development must be seen in connection with the local economic growth pattern and the adoption of a highly idiosyncratic form of warfare, which enabled Greek city-states to mobilize a greater number of citizens for war. Military participation of citizens depends on parameters of warfare and economic parameters. We show that the reduction of the average costs of fighting, coupled with an increased decisiveness of conflict, may result in an increased military participation rate. The integration of elements of majority rule in the constitution of the city-states was the political consequence of this development.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Journal of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 27 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages: 87-103

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:27:y:2011:i:1:p:87-103

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505544

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    Keywords: Ancient Greece Social choice Majority rule Political institutions Democracy Conflict Economic growth;

    References

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    1. Bitros, George C. & Karayiannis, Anastassios D., 2010. "Morality, institutions and the wealth of nations: Some lessons from ancient Greece," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 68-81, March.
    2. Andranik Tangian, 2008. "A mathematical model of Athenian democracy," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 537-572, December.
    3. Jack Hirshleifer, 1990. "The Technology of Conflict as an Economic Activity," UCLA Economics Working Papers 597, UCLA Department of Economics.
    4. Aidt, T. & Hillman, A., 2008. "Enduring Rents," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0802, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    5. Kaiser, Brooks A., 2007. "The Athenian Trierarchy: Mechanism Design for the Private Provision of Public Goods," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(02), pages 445-480, June.
    6. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1985. "The Expanding Domain of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(6), pages 53-68, December.
    7. Ian Morris, 2004. "Economic Growth in Ancient Greece," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(4), pages 709-, December.
    8. Nicholas Kyriazis, 2009. "Financing the Athenian state: public choice in the age of Demosthenes," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 109-127, April.
    9. Nitzan, Shmuel, 1994. "Modelling rent-seeking contests," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 41-60, May.
    10. Sebastian Coll, 2008. "The origins and evolution of democracy: an exercise in history from a constitutional economics approach," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 313-355, December.
    11. Bitros, George C. & Karayiannis, Anastassios D., 2008. "Values and institutions as determinants of entrepreneurship in ancient Athens," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 205-230, August.
    12. Fleck, Robert K & Hanssen, F Andrew, 2006. "The Origins of Democracy: A Model with Application to Ancient Greece," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 115-46, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Kyriazis, Nicholas & Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros, 2012. "Property rights and democratic values in Bronze Age and Archaic Greece," MPRA Paper 42399, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. George Tridimas, 2012. "Constitutional choice in ancient Athens: the rationality of selection to office by lot," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 1-21, March.
    3. Rosenberg, Jacob & Weiss, Avi, 2012. "Property rights and institutions in biblical society: The purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 279-285.
    4. Kyriazis, Nicholas & Metaxas, Theodore, 2013. "The emergence of democracy: a behavioural perspective," MPRA Paper 47146, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Tridimas, George, 2012. "How democracy was achieved," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 651-658.

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