Civic communities as actors in the Western Roman Empire from Augustus to Diocletian
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This dissertation re-evaluates the significance of civic communities (ciuitates) – largely autonomous polities with state-like attributes – in the Western Roman Empire, from Augustus to Diocletian. Ciuitates have traditionally been studied as administrative structures, fulfilling functions imposed by the Roman government. In contrast, I argue that civic communities behaved as ‘actors’ – entities which pursued communal interests through collective actions. To advance this argument, I take a case-study approach and explore the role of ciuitates as active participants in territorial disputes, the fiscal sphere, and the subordination of other peoples. My approach to agency draws on the historical sociology of Andrew Abbott which emphasises that actors continually change through their interactions. The dissertation shows that civic communities were essential frameworks of collective action through which local populations fostered their communal interests and interacted with other actors, individual and collective. Recognising ciuitates as actors is indispensable if we are to appreciate their impact on the Roman empire and understand how they shaped the empire’s socio-political landscapes over time.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2027-02-17
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 17th February 2027
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