Dados vol. 32 n. 2 Rio de Janeiro 1989

A Teoria Social de Karl Polanyi em A Grande Transformação

Fridman, Luis Carlos


Based on his observation of the emergence of the market society, Karl Polanyi, in The Great Transformation, seeks to reveal the social consequences of an unprecedented situation in human history, i.e., the separation of economics from other spheres of social relations. It is Polanyi's viewpoint that the new society based on "self-regulating market laws" represented the realization of a set of values and ideas forming part of an "economic religion", much more than it represented the result of necessary and natural material progress. Liberal reason became a new faith, and it was up to the notion of modern economic theory's "economic man". The world might thus be quite different if participating groups and classes had shown greater responsibility in dealing with the immense risks implied in economic action directed at a self-regulating market. At the other of the spectrum, economic activity which is capable of regenerating full human potential and which strives towards social justice and liberty would be made feasible by overcoming the illusion of a self-regulating market and by reducing the force which a predominantly economic calculation brings to bear upon the whole of modern sociability. This paper attempts to localize the explicit and implicit theoretical sources which provided Polanyi with his fundamental presuppositions in diagnosing "society's ruin". The core of certain interpretations which structured his "conception of society" for modern times are traced to Max Weber, Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx, refined in Polanyi's treatment of this subject.

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A Teoria Social de Karl Polanyi em A Grande Transformação