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Interpreting sociopolitical change by using Chaos Theory: A lesson from Sparta and Athens

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  • Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros
  • Kyriazis, Nicholas
  • Zachilas, Loukas

Abstract

In the present paper we introduce the concept of optimal rate of political and social change as a benchmark to explain the successful or unsuccessful development of societies facing both internal change and external shocks. Societies face two extremes: volatility, e.g. rapid changes that lead to instability and possibly to collapse, or rigidity, which does not permit necessary adaptation and change and thus may again lead to collapse. Optimal is thus a rate of change between the two extremes. We develop a model to illustrate this and then analyse two cases from ancient Greece: Sparta, as a society and state with too many institutional and balances, that led to rigidity and collapse, and Athens that in the 5th century BCE had an institutional setting with almost no checks and balances (the citizens’ body, the Assembly, which was all powerful and dominant), which again led to near collapse, but then, during the 4th century BCE, introduced new institutions that enabled the state to survive in a world of changing circumstances and balances of power.

Suggested Citation

  • Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros & Kyriazis, Nicholas & Zachilas, Loukas, 2016. "Interpreting sociopolitical change by using Chaos Theory: A lesson from Sparta and Athens," MPRA Paper 76117, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:76117
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/76117/1/MPRA_paper_76117.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Emmanouil Economou & Nicholas Kyriazis & Theodore Metaxas, 2015. "The institutional and economic foundations of regional proto-federations," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 251-271, August.
    2. Bergh, Andreas & Lyttkens, Carl Hampus, 2014. "Measuring institutional quality in ancient Athens," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 279-310, June.
    3. 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.
    4. George Tridimas, 2010. "Referendum and the choice between monarchy and republic in Greece," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 119-144, June.
    5. Anastassios Karayiannis & Aristides Hatzis, 2012. "Morality, social norms and the rule of law as transaction cost-saving devices: the case of ancient Athens," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 621-643, June.
    6. Kyriazis, Nicholas & Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros & Zachilas, Loukas, 2012. "Social Contract, public choice and fiscal repercussions in Athenian Democracy," MPRA Paper 43498, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. 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.
    8. George Halkos & Nickolas Kyriazis, 2010. "The Athenian economy in the age of Demosthenes: path dependence and change," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 255-277, June.
    9. Nicholas Kyriazis & Michel Zouboulakis, 2004. "Democracy, Sea Power and Institutional Change: An Economic Analysis of the Athenian Naval Law," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 117-132, January.
    10. North, Douglass C, 1978. "Structure and Performance: The Task of Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 963-978, September.
    11. Gordon Tullock, 1959. "Problems of Majority Voting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 67, pages 571-571.
    12. Robert Fleck & F. Hanssen, 2009. "“Rulers ruled by women”: an economic analysis of the rise and fall of women’s rights in ancient Sparta," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 221-245, July.
    13. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    political and social change; Athens; Sparta;

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy

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