The Great Transformation

The Great Transformation

The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

Summary

‘One of the most powerful books in social sciences ever written. ... A must-read’ Thomas Piketty
'The twentieth century's most prophetic critic of capitalism' Prospect

Karl Polanyi's landmark 1944 work is one of the earliest and most powerful critiques of unregulated markets. Tracing the history of capitalism from the great transformation of the industrial revolution onwards, he shows that there has been nothing 'natural' about the market state. Instead of reducing human relations and our environment to mere commodities, the economy must always be embedded in civil society. Describing the 'avalanche of social dislocation' of his time, Polanyi’s hugely influential work is a passionate call to protect our common humanity.

‘Polanyi's vision for an alternative economy re-embedded in politics and social relations offers a refreshing alternative’ Guardian

‘Polanyi exposes the myth of the free market’ Joseph Stiglitz

With a new introduction by Gareth Dale

Reviews

  • ‘One of the most powerful books in social sciences ever written. Polanyi convincingly shows that market fundamentalism, the religion of competition and the commodification of social relations largely contributed to fragilize Western societies and to lead to the authoritarian and totalitarian nightmare of 1914-1945. The same risk applies today at the global scale. A must-read.’
    Thomas Piketty

About the author

Karl Polanyi

Karl Polanyi (1886-1964) is considered one of the twentieth century's most prophetic and perceptive economic historians and social theorists. After fleeing his native Hungary and Austria with the rise of fascism, he became a British citizen. During his academic career he taught for the Workers' Educational Association and at Bennington College and Columbia University. He wrote 'The Essence of Fascism', The Great Transformation, and (with A. Rotstein) Dahomey and the Slave Trade.
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