Penn State

Clare Hinrichs - Professor of Rural Sociology, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Times

Author: Karl Polanyi

Book Description:

I first encountered the work of the Hungarian historian and political economist Karl Polanyi when in graduate school. The Great Transformation showed me the possibility and the necessity of a wider vision to understand the directions and implications of social and economic change. The prose is lucid and compelling, the narrative sweeping and insightful. The book is knit together by great concepts such as “fictitious commodities” and the “double movement,” and that chestnut, the “embedded market economy.” Polanyi’s account of the workings and prospects of the self-regulating market isn’t flawless. But The Great Transformation has provided and continues to provide touchstones for my scholarship on development and change in the food and agricultural system. This book and the continuing and lively arguments about it have also helped me think differently about nearby social and economic life, as well as the more distant developments and dramatic events now reshaping our world.


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