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The Economics of Frugality Between Ancient Rome and Contemporary Western Society (ECOFRUGAL)
Start date: Jan 1, 2013, End date: Dec 31, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The ECOFRUGAL project explores the relationship between ancient Roman values, behaviours, and laws regarding “material sobriety” and modern conceptions of such that have emerged in conjunction with the crisis now facing advanced capitalism. Using an interdisciplinary, comparative framework that draws on economic anthropology and cultural history, the project aims at a better understanding of Roman culture’s native concepts of frugality and a contextualization of “frugal” theories and practices now developing in Western political, economic, and social thought.Beginning with a lexicographic analysis of Roman concepts of “frugality” and an assessment of the impact of normative “frugal” values on the economic and cultural history of Rome (from the archaic age to the early empire), ECOFRUGAL goes on to articulate a more precise definition of the notions of frugality that have, in recent years, been at the centre of cultural and economic debate, especially in Western Europe. Through a cultural comparison between Roman models of behaviour concerning the limitation of material needs and desires – including their historical transformation – and contemporary Western notions of frugality, the project aims, in particular, to:First, increase significantly the field’s knowledge of the cultural codes according to which the Romans elaborated their conceptions of economy and of the historical dynamics of these conceptions;Second, better understand the relationship between Roman forms of materials sobriety and ideas of frugality that have emerged in the economic and socio-political thought of contemporary society;Third, re-evaluate Roman economic culture as a “resource of experience” for rethinking and thus understanding how the modern world can usefully re-appropriate ancient experience to resolve certain existing problems, and;Finally, to contribute to the intellectual profile of the European Research Area by engaging with a topic of such immediate societal relevance."
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