Earning a Living: Work and Labour in Ancient Rome

Date(s) - 15/02/2017
5:30 pm - 6:45 pm

Room G33, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School


In a Joint Meeting with the Roman Society, Dr Claire Holleran (University of Exeter) will talk on ‘Earning a Living: Work and Labour in Ancient Rome’.

Dr Holleran has kindly provided the following abstract:

For much of the twentieth century, the freeborn population of Rome was viewed as an idle one, fed and entertained at the expense of the state while work was undertaken by slaves or freed slaves.  While few would agree with this characterisation of Rome today, the structure and organisation of free labour in the city remains unclear, despite the fact that the vast majority of the population had to support themselves through their own skills and labour.  Some free workers in the city undoubtedly had their own businesses, in manufacturing, retail, or the service industry, but many worked for others as mercennarii (hired workers) or operarii (labourers).  Yet the importance of a market for wage labour in Rome has been minimised, with wage work viewed as a marginal activity, and the existence of a labour market even denied.  This paper assesses the evidence for the existence of a market for free wage labour in Rome (and in the Roman world more broadly), before going to consider some of the potential mechanisms by which workers and employers may have found each other.

All are welcome!

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