In this classic work of economic history and social theory, Karl Polanyi analyzes the economic and social changes brought about by the "great ...Show synopsisIn this classic work of economic history and social theory, Karl Polanyi analyzes the economic and social changes brought about by the "great transformation" of the Industrial Revolution. His analysis explains not only the deficiencies of the self-regulating market, but the potentially dire social consequences of untempered market capitalism. New introductory material reveals the renewed importance of Polanyi's seminal analysis in an era of globalization and free trade.Hide synopsis
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I find beaches beautiful but running in dry sand is slow going. Similarly,The Great Transformation, in its literary qualities is awkward. Its beauty lies in penetrating the political economy of our times in ways that dissolve sand castles of superficial ideology. Probing origins is an essential function in this time of global corporatization, institutional reorganization, and environmental crisis. Polanyi's insights are penetrating and illuminate the elements in these challenges.
His 1944 thesis that markets have been(and essentially must be) embedded in and constrained by "society" adds meaningfull perspective to failing attempts to expand markets and spread democracy. Any one who is perplexed by the disparity between the haves and the have-nots, the decline of "community" or the paradox of increasing income with decreasing quality of life will find this book profound. Profound not because its content is complex but because the fundamental character of mankind, the nature of intercourse between human beings, and the relationship between men and their money has been systematicall obscured by 200 yrs. of academic day dreaming.
Polanyi's critical look back washes away the sand to reveal fundamentals necessary in engaging the dynamics of our time.
Beach vacations are precious not only for beauty but for the slowed and reflective pace that steeps you in that beauty. Ironically, the language of The Great Transformation reduced me to an ardent beach comber sometimes delighted and sometimes stunned by the qualities of my finds.
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