Chapter

Cities and Economic Development in the Roman Empire

Neville Morley

in Settlement, Urbanization, and Population

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199602353
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731570 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602353.003.0006

Series: Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy

Cities and Economic Development in the Roman Empire

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This chapter sets out theoretical debate about urbanization in the Roman world and its possible relationship to the economy. Any comparative study of urbanization shows that entirely different processes within different societies can yield the same basic result, namely, the emergence of ‘the city’ in the sense of a built-up environment with a certain level of population living within a limited area. The ‘city’ is important not in its own right but for what it might tell us about the processes that promoted its development; simply noting the presence of such ‘cities’ in a society tells us nothing about the presence or absence of the sorts of processes associated with ‘economic development’ along the lines of early modern Europe. Urbanization can be understood as one of the products of the confluence of four different processes of social, economic, and cultural change: concentration, crystallization, integration, and differentiation.

Keywords: urbanization; Roman world; city; economic development; concentration; crystallization; integration; differentiation

Chapter.  6569 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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