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Title: Money, the State and crisis in the third-century Roman Empire
Author: Elliott , Colin Peter
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
The political, economic and social transformations of the so-called 'Crisis of the Third Century' appear to have combined to form a watershed moment in the history of the Roman empire, if not western civilisation in general. In particular, the period's dramatic coinage debasement has been roughly, if not at times self-evidently, correlated with catastrophic economic consequences, most notably price inflation. Apart from the numismatic evidence, the dearth of empirical data has not dissuaded scholars from pursuing quantitative studies of the period. These efforts often rely heavily on positivism in general and the models and assumptions of neoclassical economics more specifically. However, positivism as a rule produces conclusions which are never proven and correlations without firm causal relationships. Thus ancient economic historians are engaged in a seemingly perpetual debate over both the causes and effects of a third-century crisis. This thesis argues that quantification is both unhelpful and impossible in this particular case. Instead, a comparative approach is employed which, rather than comparing historical periods, contrasts the factual with the counter-factual. In questioning why price inflation did not immediately follow third- century debasements, quantity theory is reconstructed as an apodictic counter-factual proposition. In contrast to the predictive aims of neoclassical economics, this approach embraces the clear dissonance between reality and its theoretical alternative, narrowing the analysis to the differences exposed in quantity theory's inapplicability. What emerges is a picture of the third-century monetary economy which is considerably different than previously thought. Recent assumptions which correspond to a narrative of 'crisis' or even 'decline' are questioned, including the breakdown of a monetary monopoly, legal coinage ratios and a pro-growth 'monetary policy.' In fact, such elements may never have been present and the changes in the third century were the result of tensions due to a monetary system which was normally localised, disconnected and plural.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.570850  DOI: Not available
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