Cristina Rosillo López and Marta García Morcillo (Eds.): Managing Information in the Roman Economy, London 2021.
Private or hidden knowledge is an economic concept often encapsulated by the idea ‘I know something that you don’t know’; the opposite would thus be information that is ‘publicly observable’. Informational asymmetry is not only a frequent phenomenon in market activities, but is a distinguishing trait of human relationships, and can be identified in numerous parts of our daily life. Roman authors expressed and articulated collective and individual concerns and solutions to issues affecting information in economic transactions. The creation of innovative institutions aimed to improve and regulate economic performance. Some recorded legal requirements and enforcement instruments partially contributed to compensate for the uncertainties generated by business opportunities and by the unequal access to information that disadvantaged certain economic actors against others, and that were, accordingly, a source of transaction costs. These forms of state intervention reflected complex interactions between the public and the private sphere. The present collective volume aims to deepen our understanding of the Roman Economy by identifying and dissecting the information systems, networks and dynamics that both enabled and conditioned business and financial relationships. The study of knowledge as an economic source, but also as an instrument of power, invites us to evaluate economic activities within a larger collective mental, social and political framework. The book builds upon and is greatly indebted to previous scholarly research on economic theory, specifically from the field of the economics of information, as well as from New Institutional Economics, which have significantly impacted recent studies on the Ancient Economy.
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