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JSPES, Vol. 42, No. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 2017)
pp. 390–418

Comparative Corruption, Past and Present

Ramsay MacMullen

Dunham Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University

In the study of bribery (as distinct from plain theft in government), this article takes note of the recent upsurge of social-scientific research and publication, where little attention has been paid to the historical background. The prevailing problem-solving approach can be usefully supplemented by looking at the phenomenon in other times and settings, especially to illuminate its cause, that is, the motivations giving it rise, spread, and significance. The periods chosen for examination are the first several centuries of the common era and the 19th century in Europe, and the 17th to 19th centuries in China.