Before the Market

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  • Title: Before the Market: The Political Economy of Olympianism
  • Author(s): Donni Wang
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Keywords: ancient economy, ancient Greece, capitalism, democracy, private property, the market, the state, polis, Greek city-state, Classical Athens, egalitarianism, private property, the commons, division of labor, inclusion, exclusion, economic history, money, land, reciprocity, mutuality, knowledge, technology, alternatives to capitalism, slavery, violence, feasting, mutual thriving, ecumenism, conviviality, horizontal exchange, Olympianism
  • Date: February 01, 2018
  • ISBN (hbk): 978-1-61229-900-6
  • ISBN (pbk): 978-1-61229-901-3
  • ISBN (pdf): 978-1-61229-902-0
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Wang, Donni . 2018. Before the Market: The Political Economy of Olympianism. Champaign, IL: Common Ground Research Networks. doi:10.18848/978-1-61229-902-0/CGP.
  • Extent: 206 pages

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Did capitalism exist in ancient Greece, the cradle of democracy and Western civilization? This question, which has spurred intense debate among scholars in the past, is now been given a complete new take in Before the Market: The Political Economy of Olympianism. Whereas previous studies have applied quantitative models and social science methods to determine the extent of market activities and growth in ancient Greece, Before the Market employs techniques from the cultural-linguistic turn to examine economic matters. With this approach, a new economic system—one that is vastly different from the market system—has been discovered and restored against a background of competing claims and ideologies. At the same time, the underlying theoretical framework that links culture, identity, and action also prompts a radical redefinition of state power, democracy, and community, resulting in a narrative of ancient Greece that is both more dynamic and complex than in conventional accounts and also more useful and relevant for today’s world. For the concerned reader, this book is laden with lessons and ideas for both envisioning wholesale economic transformation that is needed to address the problems of the 21st century as well as examples of specific practice that can be adopted. Concepts like the commons, collective knowledge, joint ownership, and gift exchange speak directly to a number of grass-roots movements that seek to embrace alternative ways of organizing economic life. In addition, Before the Market provides a reading of democracy politics that points the way forward to a truly tolerant, inclusive and egalitarian global order, at a time when dominant political discourse has been driven either by the nationalist fervor of the far right or the precarious and inequitable prescriptions of neoliberalism.