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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

An oikos (ancient Greek: οἶκος, plural: οἶκοι) is the ancient Greek equivalent of a household, house, or family.

In Ancient Greek literature, the nature of the Oikos was prevalent, and indeed, the cornerstone of this ancient society. However, in the 5th century B.C., ancient Greek writers orientated the nature of the Oikos with the Polis (the city state); the conflict between these two was addressed in Greek Tragic theatre. The conflicting interests with both the Oikos and Polis lead to the structural decay of the society.

An oikos was the basic unit of society in most Greek city-states, and included the head of the oikos (usually the oldest male), his extended family (wife and children), and slaves living together in one domestic setting. Large oikoi also had farms that were usually tended by the slaves, which were also the basic agricultural unit of the ancient economy.

The Greek "oikos" differed significantly from the Roman "domus" in architectural layout, although Greece was part of the Roman Empire for a long time. It was built around paved peristyles and had very distinct male and female spaces.

The first part of the house consisted of a "gynaeconite" (γυναικωνίτης) (women's gallery), or peristyle (περιστύλιον), with the "oecus", the center of domestic activity, beyond. This latter area consisted of bedrooms and dining rooms. The second part of the house, the "andronites" (ἀνδρωνίται, pl. of ἀνδρωνίτης), was the locus of male activity. There one could find more dining rooms, guest suites, and libraries.

Modern sociology

The term oikos is contemporarily used to describe social groups. Several dozen to several hundred people may be known, but the quality time spent with others is extremely limited: only those to whom quality (face-to-face) time is devoted can be said to be a part of an oikos. Each individual has a primary group that includes relatives and friends who relate to the individual through work, recreation, hobbies, or by being neighbors. The modern oikos, however, includes people that share some sort of social interaction, be it through conversation or simple relation, for at least a total of one hour per week.

The term oikophobia is used to refer to fear of the home or of household appliances. It has been extended by the philosopher Roger Scruton to mean rejection of one's home culture.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Oikos" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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