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By John Haldon

With unique essays through prime students, this booklet explores the social historical past of the medieval jap Roman Empire and gives illuminating new insights into our wisdom of Byzantine society.Provides interconnected essays of unique scholarship when it comes to the social heritage of the Byzantine empireOffers groundbreaking theoretical and empirical study within the research of Byzantine societyIncludes valuable glossaries of sociological/theoretical phrases and Byzantine/medieval phrases

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In other words, there are multiple, layered overlaps which cross over the political, religious, or linguistic divisions which we commonly identify as marking the boundaries of a given society, and we need to bear this in mind, especially when discussing, for example, such topics as the changing impact of religion on marriage, on local and customary legal practice, the seasonal patterns of social and economic life, and so forth. 10 What we refer to as “Byzantine society,” therefore, must necessarily be understood in its widest sense, and as just one of a number of social systems which overlapped and intersected at various points, not just in terms of physical space – around the edges, so to speak – but also in terms of social practice, household organization, and so forth.

Most other comparativist surveys – for example, Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988) – barely pay lip-service to the Byzantine case. Perry Anderson’s Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism (1974) pays serious attention to the East Roman context, but his very able treatment is vitiated for today’s reader in part by the fact that since the time of writing in the early 70s, a number of important advances have been made in understanding how the East Roman state evolved. Anderson was also working within an Anglo-Marxist framework in which he wanted to retain traditional notions of “mode of production,” and demonstrate that whereas western feudalism was the result of a synthesis of slave and primitivecommunal (“Germanic”) modes, no such synthesis took place in the East and Balkans because of the conservatism of the Eastern Roman state superstructure.

Societies or social systems have been classified under various headings, from those described in the nineteenth century as primitive, as opposed to modern, to those referred to as non-literate or literate. In Durkheim we find a distinction drawn between segmented and organic structures, where the first category describes societies in which the parts are merely a range of loosely connected or juxtaposed replicas of one another, and the second the societies which display complex differentiation, with organic relationships between the different elements.

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