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Reflections on the Origins of the Polis

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  • Carl Lyttkens

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Abstract

From a beginning of small isolated settlements around 1000 B.C., the city-state (polis) emerged in Greece in the course of four centuries as a political, geographical and judicial unit, with an assembly, council, magistrates and written laws. Using a rational-actor perspective, it is shown how this process was driven by competition among the members of the elite. A crucial ingredient was the gradual consolidation of boundaries, which contributed to population growth, inter-state conflicts, colonisation and competition for power. Variations over time in the conditions for competition explain both the introduction of formal political institutions and their overthrow by tyrants. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Carl Lyttkens, 2006. "Reflections on the Origins of the Polis," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 31-48, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:17:y:2006:i:1:p:31-48
    DOI: 10.1007/s10602-006-6792-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. North, Douglass C., 1994. "The historical evolution of polities," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 381-391, December.
    2. Yoram Barzel, 2000. "Property rights and the evolution of the state," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 25-51, March.
    3. Robert H. Bates & Avner Greif & Margaret Levi & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "Analytic Narratives," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 6355.
    4. Greif, Avner, 1994. "On the Political Foundations of the Late Medieval Commercial Revolution: Genoa During the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(02), pages 271-287, June.
    5. Lyttkens Carl Hampus, 1994. "A Predatory Democracy? An Essay on Taxation in Classical Athens," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 62-90, January.
    6. Avner Greif, 1997. "Self-enforcing Political System and Economic Growth: Late Medieval Genoa," Working Papers 97037, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    7. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-950, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lyttkens, Carl Hampus & Gerding, Henrik, 2015. "Understanding the Politics of Perikles Around 450 BC. The Benefits of an Economic Perspective," Working Papers 2015:13, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    2. Lyttkens, Carl Hampus, 2010. "Institutions, taxation, and market relationships in ancient Athens," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(04), pages 505-527, December.
    3. Pitsoulis, Athanassios, 2011. "The egalitarian battlefield: Reflections on the origins of majority rule in archaic Greece," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 87-103, March.
    4. George Tridimas, 2011. "A political economy perspective of direct democracy in ancient Athens," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 58-82, March.
    5. Tridimas, George, 2015. "War, disenfranchisement and the fall of the ancient Athenian democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 102-117.
    6. 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.
    7. Douglas Allen & Vera Lantinova, 2013. "The ancient olympics as a signal of city-state strength," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 23-44, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutional change; Ancient Greece; City-state; Competition; D70; N43; P14; P16;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • P14 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Property Rights
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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