Status and family

Timothy Lubin, Ari Bryen, Sophie Démare-Lafont, Michael Gagarin, Caroline Humfress, Geoffrey MacCormack, Joseph G. Manning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter surveys forms of status by which legal systems assign rights, obligations and capacities to various categories of person. Though such discussions have tended to restrict themselves to statuses recognized in Roman law (the hierarchical birth-based statuses that Maine contrasted with the contractualism of later Western systems), cross-cultural comparison requires a wider lens. Hence, the chapter covers status within the polity, official or military status, unfree or servile status, putatively ‘natural’ statuses, status in the family and status as member of a voluntary or professional association. Special attention is given to the mechanisms involved in change of status, and to status as a factor in legal penalties. It is proposed that, in systems of religious law (which often operate parallel to civil law in a legal-pluralist context and across borders), status within the ‘ecclesial’ polity is comparable to civil status (citizen, resident alien, etc.) within a territorially defined polity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCambridge comparative history of ancient law
EditorsCaroline Humfress, David Ibbetson, Patrick Olivelle
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781009452243
ISBN (Print)9781107035164
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Alien
  • Citizen
  • Emancipation
  • Disability
  • Free
  • Patria potestas
  • Polity
  • Rights
  • Servile
  • Slave
  • Tutelage


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