summary response on polanyis the great transformation

We have just finished reading several chapters on Karl Polanyi’s, “The Great Transformation,” which is truly crucial to understanding how and why we need to restructure economic education today. The central thesis of this book was a historical description of the emergence of the market economy as a competitor to the traditional economy. Although he has not given a clear legacy to a separate tradition of economics and economic history, the importance of Polanyi’s thoughts to heretical economic ideas should not be underestimated. Unfortunately, the book is quite complex and Polanyi’s arguments remain unfamiliar to majority of economists, he includes far too much history and politics. Polanyi understood economics more realistically than most economists, and understood that economics does not stand alone, but exists within a large social institutional context. He highlights the rise and fall of the market economy and the factors that influenced them, including the great Industrial Revolution.

In particular, Polanyi analyzes the deficiencies of the self-regulating market and and the social consequences of an unrestrained capitalist market. Polanyi to formulate the opposition between a self-regulating economy and an economy whose process of production and distribution is socially controlled and thus it allows to include the opposition between the market economy and the socialist economy as different systems of production and distribution. Polanyi shows the very visible hand of the government interfering in all aspects of society in order to insure market dominance. Now this point is especially relevant to us today. During the last several decades, we have witnessed a resurgence of economic liberalism. We were told once again that the market could self-regulate, and once again it has come crushing down, Polanyi is not anti-market, he believes that they are indeed beneficial, but they are not truly self-regulating, and more importantly the ethos of the market should not be ruling or even dominant ethic of society. The core contention i that self-regulating market system is Utopian theoretical constructs and can not be imposed on society for long because they create huge social costs; so society struggles back by demanding market regulation. Polanyi lays down his basic criticism of this self-regulating market system in chapter 4. Polanyi starts from historical and anthropological research that shows that “man’s economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships. He does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social claims, his social assets.” Maintenance of social ties, accepted code of honor, generosity are paramount. If not respected the individual finds himself as an outcast. Furthermore, since all obligations are reciprocal, the maintenance of costumes norm, also serve the individual best. Polanyi here says that all economic system up to the end of feudalism in Western Europe were organized on the following principles: reciprocity, or redistribution, or house-holding, or a combination of the three. These three principles were institutionalized with the help of a social organization making use of the patterns of symmetry, centricity, and autarchy. Polanyi’s analysis of this new idea is captured in Chapter Six. Polanyi makes it clar that a fully disembedded, self-regulating market, would require all human-beings and nature to be turned into pure commodities, whether fictitious or real. It is only when these factors are commodified that a true market society comes into existence.

This history of England, from the enclosures of the 1600s to the abolition of the Poor Laws in 1834, was the history of the commodification of society and nature. The imposition of market ideology created social problems precisely because its abstract assumptions are not absolutely correct. The self-regulating market assumes that all factors of production can be commoditized. Polanyi disputes this, citing the fictitious commodities for land, labor, and money. These are fictitious commodities because they are more than merely items created to be bought and sold. Yet they are treated only as such on the self-regulating market. Labor for example, is an act preformed by human beings, who are not commodities. Treating labor as a pure commodity, led to the severe working conditions and abuses of the Victorian workforce. Polanyi was a very previsional thinker of his time. He was not necessary against economic progress and the market exchange. He says the enclosure movement was necessary. He gives around that self – regulating markets created unprecedented material wealth, his objection is limited to the social dislocation it causes. The Great Transformation confronts the concept of market society and reveals its historical tendencies and struggles. Polanyi eloquently attacks the idea of a purely self-regulated market society and shows that its history has been one of constant struggles for balance between personal gain and societal well-being. For anyone concerned with the current issues of globalization, The Great Transformation provides a surplus of theoretical and empirical observations that are as valid today as they were sixty years ago.

Summary-Response on Polanyi’s “The Great Transformation

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!
Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why Work with Us

Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers

We always make sure that writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can choose your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who has a respective degree.

Professional and Experienced Academic Writers

We have a team of professional writers with experience in academic and business writing. Many are native speakers and able to perform any task for which you need help.

Free Unlimited Revisions

If you think we missed something, send your order for a free revision. You have 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging into your personal account or by contacting our support.

Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee

All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need more time to master your paper, we may contact you regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.

Original & Confidential

We use several writing tools checks to ensure that all documents you receive are free from plagiarism. Our editors carefully review all quotations in the text. We also promise maximum confidentiality in all of our services.

24/7 Customer Support

Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

No need to work on your paper at night. Sleep tight, we will cover your back. We offer all kinds of writing services.


Essay Writing Service

No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.


Admission Essays & Business Writing Help

An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.


Editing Support

Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.


Revision Support

If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.

Get better grades effortlesslyIt’s cheaper than you might think

Effortlessly get the essays and grades you need. You can now get any essay, on any subject and at ANY deadline with just 10 minutes of your time (or less). Your professor will love you for it!