A Social History of Byzantium by John Haldon

By John Haldon

With unique essays via prime students, this booklet explores the social historical past of the medieval japanese Roman Empire and gives illuminating new insights into our wisdom of Byzantine society.Provides interconnected essays of unique scholarship with regards to the social heritage of the Byzantine empireOffers groundbreaking theoretical and empirical learn within the learn of Byzantine societyIncludes necessary glossaries of sociological/theoretical phrases and Byzantine/medieval phrases

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Some work has been done on notions of gender and the ways in which behavior and social practice both determined and provided the context for attitudes to women, men, and eunuchs, and some work has been done on the differences between the roles ascribed to men and women of varying social situation in the later Roman and Byzantine worlds. But no one has yet attempted any synthetic discussion of either particular aspects of Byzantine social history across the whole period or (and in the context of) any discussion about approaches to social history in a pre-modern society.

34 It is worth noting, finally, that – with the exception of the more recent work of Khvostova referred to already – the majority of Soviet scholars came to agree that the seventh century marked the end of the ancient world and the accompanying slave mode of production; that there followed a long period of pre- or proto“feudal” development (as outlined by Kazhdan, for example), succeeded from the eleventh or twelfth century by the full development of “feudal” relations of production. 35 All seemed agreed on the crucial role of the state in the development of Byzantine “feudalism,” especially its role in patronizing and promoting what became by the tenth and eleventh century the aristocracy.

The term “social formation,” which is frequently used in historical materialist/Marxist discussion, suffers equally from a certain ambiguity in usage. On the one hand, it refers to ideal-typical sets of social-economic relationship dominated by specific modes of production, such as “feudal” or “capitalist” social formations; on the other, it is used to refer to specific historical societies, for example, the Byzantine or late Roman or colonial Indian social formations. Although some have argued that “social formation” is more analytically useful than “society” because it has both a more open-ended significance and because it implies in the word “formation” a complex of constituent elements, in the end the difference is one of semantics and I do not think that one is necessarily inferior to the other – both describe sets of social (and economic and cultural and political) relations together with the cultural and institutional contexts necessary to their material and ideological reproduction, and it seems to me that as long as this is borne in mind, there is little to choose between them.

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