Peasant, Citizen and Slave
The Foundations of Athenian Democracy

Wood, Ellen Meiksins
Publisher:  Verso
Year Published:  1997  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX11436

Wood argues that, despite the importance of slavery in Athenian society, the most distinctive characteristic of Athenian democracy was the unprecedented prominence it gave to free labour. Wood argues that the emergence of the peasant as citizen, juridically and politically independent, accounts for much that is remarkable in Athenian political institutions and culture.

Abstract: 
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From publisher:

The controversial thesis at the centre of this study is that, despite the importance of slavery in Athenian society, the most distinctive characteristic of Athenian democracy was the unprecedented prominence it gave to free labour. Wood argues that the emergence of the peasant as citizen, juridically and politically independent, accounts for much that is remarkable in Athenian political institutions and culture.

From a survey of historical writings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the focus of which distorted later debates, Wood goes on to take issue with influential arguments, such as those of G.E.M. de Ste Croix, about the importance of slavery in agricultural production. The social, political and cultural influence of the peasant-citizen is explored in a way which questions some of the most cherished conventions of Marxist and non-Marxist historiography.

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