Essay on The Great Transformation : An Influential Text

815 Words Nov 29th, 2016 4 Pages
In 1944 Austrian born Karl Polanyi published his most well known book The Great Transformation in which he critiqued dominant economic thinking and offered another lens in which to view global markets and the history of capitalism. The Great Transformation has remained an influential text especially in the fields of sociology, history and anthropology (Block 275). Polanyi believed that there was a series of myths surrounding the origins and workings of capitalism that began with Adam Smith and his book Wealth of Nations. The Great Transformation looks to counter some of those myths by adding an anthropological and historical analysis. Polanyi claims that our market driven society is a historical novelty (Watson) and that for the majority of human history markets were on the periphery of society. He makes the distinction between pre market societies and what we have today; a market society. His book explains that before the great transformation, or industrial revolution, in England our market was embedded in society (Polanyi 12). Meaning that while there still was a market it was based in social rules such as the guiding principles of redistribution, reciprocity, and householding (Polanyi 46). These are called pre-market societies. However the current capitalist system has changed the mentality surrounding markets. Capitalism has “dis-embedded” (Polanyi 43) the market from society, meaning that the market now dictates our social interactions, this is called a market society.…

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