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A client (derived from the Latin cliens , "follower, protégé, serf") is the client or recipient of certain consulting professions , such as notaries , lawyers , tax consultants , auditors or social pedagogues . Use the term therapists and members of the nursing profession occasionally in contrast to the patient to stress to the service character of their activities.


The Latin term clientela in ancient Rome denotes on the one hand the following, the totality of the protégés, on the other hand the relationship between a client and his patron who stands up for his clients and in return demands their loyalty ( fides ) ( clientelism ). The clientela mostly arose because a non-aristocrat got into economic hardship or because he was unable to represent himself in court due to his limited legal capacity and knowledge. The loyalty obligations of the client existed z. B. from accompanying the patron, military service. The consideration of the patron was u. a. from the invitation to the dinner table, financial support and legal assistance.

With the end of the class struggles and the beginning of the res publica Romana , a political clientele emerged: The client supported the patron in the political field and paid him a daily morning visit. The power and reputation of the patron depend on the size of his clientele, which is why there is competition for the clients and thus a voluntary loyalty relationship.

Towards the end of the republic a few, mostly popular generals swung themselves into cartridges for their armies. This army clientele contributed to the fall of the Roman Republic and to the emergence of the principate under Augustus .

In the imperial era, the clientele was a status symbol for the patron. The political function of gaining a following in order to assert oneself against competing politicians was often omitted at the senatorial level, so that the clientele was primarily viewed from an economic perspective and the focus was on the financial dependency of the clients. Sometimes clients were degraded from their patrons to mere servants, humiliated and subjected to shameful rules, for example through dress codes or an obligation to be present, consisting of the morning visit to the patron and his public company.

Today, a patronage system is a typical feature of societies to which state authority is weak or has forfeited and the legal system functions badly, so that no effective legal protection is possible apart from client relationships . The development of the Mafia in Sicily is also based on such structures. The areas of power of so-called warlords that often arise when the state collapses are also based on patronage and loyalty networks of local military leaders .

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Wiktionary: Client  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations