International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

2010 Edition
| Editors: Helmut K. Anheier, Stefan Toepler

Civil Society History I: Antiquity

  • Gábor Molnár
Reference work entry

Main Characteristics of the Period

Although the term “civil society” is an ancient coinage, its meaning has since undergone such a great change that it is not self-evident to talk about civil society (in the modern sense of the word) concerning antiquity without reservation. However, as will be clear later, the old and the modern usages are not totally unrelated, and it may prove to be illuminative of the understanding of present-day civil societies to look for ancient counterparts.

General Economic and Political Conditions

Throughout this entry antiquity will be understood as classical antiquity, that is, the Greco-Roman world, covering the time span from ca. 600 BCE to 476 CE.

All ancient societies were more or less complex agrarian (or pre-industrial) societies organized politically in states. Since the economic integration of larger areas was extremely difficult due to the underdeveloped technologies of agricultural production and transportation, they could only be integrated by...

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References/Further Readings

  1. Aristotle (1984). The complete works (Vol. 2). Barnes, J. (Ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alföldy, G. (1988). The social history of Rome. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Arnaoutoglou, I. N. (2002). Roman Law and collegia in Asia Minor. Revue Internationale des droits de l’Antiquité XLIX, 27–44.Google Scholar
  4. Cicero (1999). On the commonwealth and on the laws. Zetzel, J. E. G. (Ed. and Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Crone, P. (1989). Pre-industrial societies. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  6. Ehrenberg, J. (1999). Civil society. The critical history of an idea. New York/London: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Finley, M. I. (1983). Politics in the ancient world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Garnsey, P., & Saller, R. (1987). The Roman empire. Economy, society and culture. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  9. Hansen, M. H. (2006). Polis. An introduction to the ancient Greek city-state. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Jones, N. F. (1999). The associations of classical Athens. The response to democracy. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Kloppenborg, J. S., & Wilson, S. G. (Eds.) (1996). Voluntary associations in the Graeco-Roman world. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Long, R. T. (1998). Civil society in ancient Greece: The case of Athens.; 09/27/2008.
  13. Wallace-Hadrill, A. (Ed.) (1989). Patronage in ancient society. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gábor Molnár
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social TheoryUniversity of KaposvárKaposvárHungary