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Economic Inequality, Poverty, and Democracy in Athens

  • Claire TaylorEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 132)

Abstract

This chapter explores the relationship between participatory democracy and poverty in democratic Athens. It reviews Athenian ideas about poverty, and draws on recent debates within Greek history and the social sciences, in order to examine the relationship between the economic prosperity of Athenians and the democratic system, with particular emphasis on the role of direct democracy in the amelioration of poverty. Social scientists have frequently argued that democracy has a greater chance of success in wealthier polities: is this the case in Athens—a city that recent research suggests was affluent, had experienced long-term economic growth, had relatively high wages and robust democratic institutions? The Athenian experience is used to explore how participatory democracy can be viewed as a tool for social flourishing to empower, enrich, and improve the capabilities and well-being of the poor. However, although direct democracy was the principle way that poverty was mediated for some, it was also a key factor in the reproduction of poverty for others in Athens.

Keywords

Democracy Growth Inequalities Middle class Poverty 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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