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The Great Transformation Hardcover – January 1, 1944


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Hardcover, January 1, 1944
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.; 1st edition (1944)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006AQ8X2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,229,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

As the Second World War was drawing to a close in 1944, two great works of political economy were published. One was Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, the driving force behind the free-market revolution in the final quarter of the twentieth century. The other was Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation. . . . [It] is well worth reading. -Larry Elliott, The Guardian

"[The Great Transformation] did more than any work of that generation to broaden and deepen the critique of market societies. --."-John Buell, The Progressive."-John Buell, The Progressive --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Karl Polanyi (1886-1964) is considered one of the twentieth century's most discerning economic historians. He left his position as senior editor of Vienna's leading financial and economic weekly in 1933, became a British citizen, taught adult extension programs for Oxford and London Universities, and held visiting chairs at Bennington College and Columbia University. He is co-author of Christianity and the Social Revolution; author of The Great Transformation; Trade and Market in Early Empires (with C.Arnsberg and H.Pearson) and posthumously, Dahomey and the Slave Trade (with A.Rotstein).

Joseph E. Stiglitz was formerly chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, and chief economist of the World Bank. He is professor of economics at Stanford University, and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Fred Block is professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

210 of 220 people found the following review helpful By ChairmanLuedtke on January 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Polanyi's "The Great Transformation" is a broad, sweeping work that encompasses history, sociology, economics and political science. MacIver writes that the book's particular relevance for a political scientist is that "it will help him to restate old issues and to evaluate old doctrines" (xi). However, with the recent renaissance of liberal/classical economic doctrines (what Polanyi would scornfully call the utopia of the "self-adjusting market") it seems that the issues restated and the doctrines evaluated by Polanyi are not so "old" after all. For this reason, the book has even more relevance now than it did for past readers, even just twenty years after its publication, when the heyday of planned economics appeared to be carrying out Polanyi's proposed remedies for the excesses of free marketism, and blunting the force of his critique as applied to post-transformation society. But in the era of WTO and NAFTA, a strong case can be made that his critique has attained newfound relevance beyond even its original application.
This critique can be phrased into a causal historical argument as follows: The Great Depression and two World Wars are Polanyi's dependent variable (the outcome to be explained). For Polanyi, this turmoil of 1917-1945 was a catastrophic indicator that 19th Century civilization had collapsed. And since 19th Century civilization rested upon the "classical" economic liberal doctrine of a self-regulating market, (with accompanying balance-of-power system, gold standard, and laissez-faire liberal state that defended property rights above all else and viewed human labor as no more than a commodity) it is this doctrine that is Polanyi's independent, explanatory variable.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Athough first published in 1944, this book still has much relevance.Polanyi discusses the development of markets and their impact on society.He shows that throughout most of history economic activity has been subordinate to control by society.Markets only gained importance at the end of the feudal era in Western Europe.They were promoted by centrally organized intervention, they were not a "natural" development, he says.Polanyi argues that markets destroy society, and a telling example he gives is the cycle of war, boom, and bust that they engender.His solution is for society to regain control over markets, and not let them dominate us.This book is a classic in its field, and explains much of what is happening in economics today.
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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Yaumo Gaucho on August 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Polanyi challenges the Neoclassical (specifically Hayekian) assertion that humans started out as individuals , and only later grew into societies. Siding with Durkheim and other holists, Polanyi argues that the concept of a freely contracting economic individual is actually a very recent, and very sociohistorically localized, assertion. Put simply, "free markets" are something consciously made and supported by societies, not an a-priori order nor a state of nature. Polanyi beautifully weaves legal, economic, political, and social history into a cogent thread of argument. One doesn't have to oppose free markets upon accepting Polanyi's argument; one just has to become aware of markets' socially constructed and supported nature.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Edward Mariyani-Squire on June 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is undoubtedly Polanyi's finest work, and an example of the highest quality of scholarship available. This analysis of the rise and influence of "the socially embedded market" is simultaneously lucid and profound; clear and complex; detailed and sweeping. It provides one with a wonderful model for an interdiscipinary approach to the investigation of social phenomena - it is employs political, economic and sociological concepts within a genuinely historical framework to reveal truths about our modern industrial society that no single discipline could fathom. It is, in short, a masterpiece.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
Karl Polanyi has provided us with a cut-throat explaination as to how the market system has shaped and formed our person and existance. From the demolition of community to modern business and personal ethics, Polanyi explains who we are, our present Darwinistic purpose, and, not to mention, the price each of us carries with us. Absolutely a must-read for those who truly demand to know what has happened to mankind since the industrial revolution.
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