Global Capital: From the Polanyi Thesis to World-Systems and beyond Capital
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Karl Polanyi’s work, The Great Transformation, analyzed the way in which the inception of the Industrial Revolution changed social life in Great Britain. Polanyi demonstrated how ‘the economy’ was an aspect of social and productive life that was embedded in societies around the world. His claim was that this was a universal truth, and while this may well be contested, the idea that a process of disembedding this economic sphere from human activity had great traction in the post-World War II global economic reconstruction. Polanyi’s approach was based on the ‘enclosure’ phenomenon, or what later became known as the ‘tragedy of the commons’ in which modern productive life could no longer maintain the idea that resources could be used ‘in common’ without ownership attached to it. This major innovation in thinking about the political and social place of economic activity needs highlighting here and will show how both Mészáros and Wallerstein develop their critiques in a similar fashion.
KeywordsEveryday Life Human Nature Social Theory Social Anthropology Human Freedom
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