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From Ecclesiastical to Political Economy: The Rise of the Social

Dotan Leshem

Abstract


In response to Hannah Arendts claim that the social realm originates with the modern age, this article argues for its roots in the early Christian, ecclesiastical concept of oikonomia or economy. The first part shows how economy first exceeded the oikos (household) into the public sphere within the society of Christian believers. The second part focuses on the passage from ecclesiastical economy to political economy that coincides with the emergence of modernity. The last section concludes by emphasizing the continuity between ecclesiastical and political economy, despite the phenomenon of secularization.

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