Honor Among Thieves: Craftsmen, Merchants, and Associations in Roman and Late Roman Egypt

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University of Michigan Press, Nov 28, 2016 - Business & Economics - 275 pages
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Honor Among Thieves examines associations of craftsmen in the framework of ancient economics and transaction costs. Scholars have long viewed such associations primarily as social or religious groups that provided mutual support, proper burial, and sociability, and spaces where nonelite individuals could seek status supposedly denied them in their contemporary society. However, the analysis presented here concentrates on how craftsmen, merchants, and associations interacted with each other and with elite and nonelite constituencies; managed economic, political, social, and legal activities; represented their concerns to the authorities; and acquired and used social capital—a new and important view of these economic engines.

Philip F. Venticinque offers a study of associations from a social, economic, and legal point of view, and in the process examines how they helped their members overcome high transaction costs—the “costs of doing business”—through the development of social capital. He explores associations from the “bottom up,” in order to see how their members create status and reputation outside of an elite framework. He thus explores how occupations regarded as thieves in elite ideology create their own systems of honor.

Honor Among Thieves will be of interest to scholars of the ancient economy, of social groups, and Roman Egypt in all periods.


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Chapter 1 Charters Transaction Costs and Trust
Chapter 2 The Business of Trust
Chapter 3 Reputation Management
Chapter 4 Reputation Rhetoric and Participation
Chapter 5 Associations in Legal Thought and Practice
Chapter 6 Associations in Late Roman Egypt

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About the author (2016)

Philip F. Venticinque is Associate Professor of Classics at Cornell College.

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