The Byzantine monastery as a Commons




commons, institutions, Byzantine monasteries, historical institutional analysis, desing principles for communities


Although scholars have paid increased attention to commons, most studies explore modern cases, disregarding historical commons. The analysis of the latter can contribute to understanding the long-term effects of past behaviours on future generations and provide inspiration for solutions to contemporary problems arising from similar social dilemmas. One historical commons that still exists is the Byzantine monastic institution. Drawing on historical sources and contemporary studies, the paper uses (a) historical institutional analysis, to outline the structure of the institution, and (b) the community design principles of successful commons, to explore whether the Byzantine monastery can be classified as a commons. We find that the Byzantine monastery was a successful case of a historical commons, which developed a credible governance structure to sustainably manage and preserve their common goods, both intangible and tangible, despite the lack of direct democratic processes that characterize modern commons.


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Author Biographies

Paschalis Arvanitidis, University of Thessaly

Paschalis A. Arvanitidis is Professor of Institutional Economics at the Department of Economics, University of Thessaly (Greece), and visiting professor on Commons at the Hellenic Open University. He is an engineer with postgraduate and doctoral studies in economics, specializing in institutional economics, urban economics and property markets. His current recent research interests focus on issues of urban commons, social and solidarity economy, public space, civic engagement, as well as issues of local development. Over the last years he has participated in many EU and Greek-funded research projects (in 6 as a scientific coordinator). Paschalis is the author of a research monograph published by Routledge and he has published a number of research papers in collective volumes and peer-reviewed journals, such as Cities, Public Choice, Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, Journal of Economic Studies, Contributions to Political Economy and Bulletin of Political Economy.

Charalampos Sofiadis, University of Thessaly

Charalampos N. Sofiadis is a Research Associate in the Laboratory of Economic Policy and Strategic Planning at the Department of Economics, University of Thessaly (Greece). He is a political scientist with postgraduate studies in applied economics specialized in public administration and local government. His current research interests include issues of economic history and institutional economics with emphasis on the analysis of the commons.


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How to Cite

Arvanitidis, Paschalis, and Charalampos Sofiadis. 2023. “The Byzantine Monastery As a Commons”. Revista De Historia Industrial — Industrial History Review 32 (89):107-42.