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Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 207–223 | Cite as

Changing knowledge in the early economic thought of Michael Polanyi

  • Gábor István Bíró
Regular Article
  • 122 Downloads

Abstract

How did Polanyi, a middleman between Keynes and Hayek, see economics education as a way to save the challenged liberal economic system of the 1930s? The first part of the article explores how experts and non-experts were engaged in making and disseminating economic knowledge, what role perception had in these engagements, and how such practices contributed to a kind of mental division of labor in the early economic thought of Michael Polanyi. The second part reconstructs Polanyi’s endeavors to show how the visual presentation of social matters could foster these engagement practices and the construction of economic knowledge. The third part points out that top-down and bottom-up approaches were both present in Polanyi’s economic thought and explains why the latter is evolutionary in a sense that it is based on changing knowledge in cognitive, behavioral, social and technical domains. The fourth part discusses how public understanding of economic ideas connected interactional expertise and boundary work in Polanyi’s account, and how he was engaged in developing both as part of his social agenda. The article concludes by showing how Polanyi positioned his growth theory and social agenda to save liberal economic thought and our civilization.

Keywords

Boundary work Economic evolution Economics education F.A. Hayek J. M. Keynes Michael Polanyi Social agenda 

JEL classification

A11 B22 B24 B25 B52 E14 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Gábor Áron Zemplén, Phil Mullins, Tihamér Margitay, Márta Fehér, István Danka, Kurt Dopfer and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable insights and helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. I thank Benedek Láng and István Danka for the opportunity to present this paper before the Department of Philosophy and History of Science at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, on May 2, 2016. All remaining errors are mine.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Budapest University of Technology and EconomicsBudapestHungary

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