Karl Polanyi

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Karl Polanyi
Polanyi Karoly.jpg
BornOctober 25, 1886
DiedApril 23, 1964(1964-04-23) (aged 77)
Pickering, Ontario, Canada
Field Economic sociology, economic history, economic anthropology
School or
tradition
Historical school of economics
Influences Robert Owen, Bronisław Malinowski, G. D. H. Cole, Richard Tawney, Richard Thurnwald, Karl Marx, Aristotle, Karl Bücher, Ferdinand Tönnies, Adam Smith, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, Werner Sombart, Max Weber, György Lukács, Carl Menger
Contributions Embeddedness, Double Movement, fictitious commodities, economistic fallacy, the formalist–substantivist debate (substantivism)

Karl Paul Polanyi ( /pˈlænji/ ; Hungarian : Polányi Károly [ˈpolaːɲi ˈkaːroj] ; October 25, 1886 – April 23, 1964) [1] was an Austro-Hungarian economic historian, economic anthropologist, economic sociologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. He is known for his opposition to traditional economic thought and for his book, The Great Transformation , which argued that the emergence of market-based societies in modern Europe was not inevitable but historically contingent. Polanyi is remembered today as the originator of substantivism, a cultural approach to economics, which emphasized the way economies are embedded in society and culture. This view ran counter to mainstream economics but is popular in anthropology, economic history, economic sociology and political science.

Hungarian language language spoken in and around Hungary

Hungarian is a Uralic language spoken in Hungary and parts of several neighbouring countries. It is the official language of Hungary and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Outside Hungary it is also spoken by communities of Hungarians in the countries that today make up Slovakia, western Ukraine (Subcarpathia), central and western Romania (Transylvania), northern Serbia (Vojvodina), northern Croatia and northern Slovenia.

Economic sociology Study of the social cause and effect of various economic phenomena

Economic sociology is the study of the social cause and effect of various economic phenomena. The field can be broadly divided into a classical period and a contemporary one, known as "New economic sociology".

Historical sociology branch of sociology focusing on how societies develop through history

Historical sociology is a branch of sociology focusing on how societies develop through history. It looks at how social structures that many regard as natural are in fact shaped by complex social processes. The structure in turn shapes institutions and organizations, which affect the society - resulting in phenomena ranging from gender bias and income inequality to war.

Contents

Polanyi's approach to the ancient economies has been applied to a variety of cases, such as Pre-Columbian America and ancient Mesopotamia, although its utility to the study of ancient societies in general has been questioned. [2] Polanyi's The Great Transformation became a model for historical sociology. His theories eventually became the foundation for the economic democracy movement. His daughter, Canadian economist Kari Polanyi Levitt (born 1923 in Vienna, Austria), is Emerita Professor of Economics at McGill University, Montreal.

Economic democracy is a socioeconomic philosophy that proposes to shift decision-making power from corporate managers and corporate shareholders to a larger group of public stakeholders that includes workers, customers, suppliers, neighbours and the broader public. No single definition or approach encompasses economic democracy, but most proponents claim that modern property relations externalize costs, subordinate the general well-being to private profit and deny the polity a democratic voice in economic policy decisions. In addition to these moral concerns, economic democracy makes practical claims, such as that it can compensate for capitalism's inherent effective demand gap.

Kari Polanyi Levitt is a Canadian economist, currently Emerita Professor of Economics at McGill University, Montreal. She is known for her work on economic development and economic sovereignty, and in particular for her 1970 book Silent Surrender: The Multinational Corporation in Canada. She is also the literary executor of her father, the economic historian Karl Polanyi.

McGill University English-language university in Montreal, Quebec

McGill University is a public research university in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was established in 1821 by royal charter, granted by King George IV. The university bears the name of James McGill, a Montreal merchant originally from Scotland whose bequest in 1813 formed the university's precursor, McGill College.

Background

Polanyi was born into a Jewish family. His younger brother was Michael Polanyi, a philosopher, and his niece was Eva Zeisel, a world-renowned ceramist. [3] He was born in Vienna, at the time the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. [4] Mihály Pollacsek father of Karl and Michael Polanyi, was a railway entrepreneur. Mihály never changed the name Pollacsek and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Budapest. Mihály died in January 1905, which was an emotional shock to Karl, and he commemorated the anniversary of Mihály's death throughout his life. [5] Karl and Michael Polanyi's mother was Cecília Wohl. The name change to Polanyi (not von Polanyi) was made by Karl and his siblings. Polanyi was well educated despite the ups and downs of his father's fortune, and he immersed himself in Budapest's active intellectual and artistic scene.

Polányi, Polanyi is a surname. There have been a number of prominent individuals in the Polanyi family, illustrated in the following family tree:

Michael Polanyi Hungarian-British polymath

Michael Polanyi was a Hungarian-British polymath, who made important theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, economics, and philosophy. He argued that positivism supplies a false account of knowing, which if taken seriously undermines humanity's highest achievements.

Eva Zeisel Hungarian artist

Eva Striker Zeisel was a Hungarian-born American industrial designer known for her work with ceramics, primarily from the period after she immigrated to the United States. Her forms are often abstractions of the natural world and human relationships. Work from throughout her prodigious career is included in important museum collections across the world. Zeisel declared herself a "maker of useful things".

Polanyi founded the radical and influential Galileo Circle while at the University of Budapest, a club which would have far reaching effects on Hungarian intellectual thought. During this time, he was actively engaged with other notable thinkers, such as György Lukács, Oszkár Jászi, and Karl Mannheim. Polanyi graduated from Budapest University in 1912 with a doctorate in Law. In 1914, he helped found the Hungarian Radical Party and served as its secretary.

Galileo Circle

The Galileo Circle was an atheist-materialist student organization that functioned in Budapest between 1910 and 1919. It was based in Anker Köz.

György Lukács Marxist philosopher and literary critic

György Lukács was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher, aesthetician, literary historian, and critic. He was one of the founders of Western Marxism, an interpretive tradition that departed from the Marxist ideological orthodoxy of the Soviet Union. He developed the theory of reification, and contributed to Marxist theory with developments of Karl Marx's theory of class consciousness. He was also a philosopher of Leninism. He ideologically developed and organised Lenin's pragmatic revolutionary practices into the formal philosophy of vanguard-party revolution.

Oszkár Jászi Hungarian politician

Oszkár Jászi, also known in English as Oscar Jászi, was a Hungarian social scientist, historian, and politician.

Polanyi was a cavalry officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War I, in active service at the Russian Front and hospitalized in Budapest. Polanyi supported the republican government of Mihály Károlyi and its Social Democratic regime. The republic was short-lived, however, and when Béla Kun toppled the Karolyi government to create the Hungarian Soviet Republic Polanyi left for Vienna.

Cavalry soldiers or warriors fighting from horseback

Cavalry or horsemen are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms. An individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman, horseman, dragoon, or trooper. The designation of cavalry was not usually given to any military forces that used other animals, such as camels, mules or elephants. Infantry who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries as dragoons, a class of mounted infantry which later evolved into cavalry proper while retaining their historic title.

Austro-Hungarian Army ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918

The Austro-Hungarian Army was the ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918. It was composed of three parts: the joint army, the Imperial Austrian Landwehr, and the Royal Hungarian Honvéd.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as, "the war to end all wars," it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

In Vienna

From 1924 to 1933 he was employed as a senior editor of the prestigious Der Österreichische Volkswirt ('The Austrian Economist') magazine. It was at this time that he first began criticizing the Austrian School of economists, who he felt created abstract models which lost sight of the organic, interrelated reality of economic processes. Polanyi himself was attracted to Fabianism and the works of G. D. H. Cole. It was also during this period that Polanyi grew interested in Christian socialism.

Der Österreichische Volkswirt was a German language economics and political magazine published in Vienna, Austria. It was the first business publication in the country.

Austrian School school of economic thought

The Austrian School is a heterodox school of economic thought that is based on methodological individualism—the concept that social phenomena result exclusively from the motivations and actions of individuals.

G. D. H. Cole Historian, economist, writer

George Douglas Howard Cole was an English political theorist, economist, writer and historian. As a libertarian socialist, he was a long-time member of the Fabian Society and an advocate for the co-operative movement.

He married the communist revolutionary Ilona Duczyńska, of Polish-Hungarian background.

In London

Polanyi was asked to resign from Der Oesterreichische Volkswirt because the liberal publisher of the journal could not keep on a prominent socialist after the accession of Hitler to office in January 1933 and the suspension of the Austrian parliament by the rising tide of clerical fascism in Austria. He left for London in 1933, where he earned a living as a journalist and tutor and obtained a position as a lecturer for the Workers' Educational Association in 1936. His lecture notes contained the research for what later became The Great Transformation . However, he would not start writing this work until 1940, when he moved to Vermont to take up a position at Bennington College. The book was published in 1944, to great acclaim. In it, Polanyi described the enclosure process in England and the creation of the contemporary economic system at the beginning of the 19th century.

United States and Canada

Polanyi joined the staff of Bennington College in 1940, teaching a series of five timely lectures on the "Present Age of Transformation.". [6] [7] The lectures, The Passing of the 19th Century, [8] The Trend Towards an Integrated Society, [9] The Breakdown of the International System, [10] Is America an Exception [11] and Marxism and the Inner History of the Russian Revolution, [12] took place during the early stages of World War II. Polanyi participated in Bennington's Humanism Lecture Series (1941) [13] and The Bennington College Lecture Series (1943) where his topic was "Jean Jacques Rousseau: Or is a Free Society Possible?" [14]

After the war, Polanyi received a teaching position at Columbia University (1947–1953). However, his wife had a background as a former communist, which made gaining an entrance visa in the United States impossible. As a result, they moved to Canada, and Polanyi commuted to New York City. In the early 1950s, Polanyi received a large grant from the Ford Foundation to study the economic systems of ancient empires.

Having described the emergence of the modern economic system, Polanyi now sought to understand how "the economy" emerged as a distinct sphere in the distant past. His seminar at Columbia drew several famous scholars and influenced a generation of teachers, resulting in the 1957 volume Trade and Markets in the Early Empires. Polanyi continued to write in his later years and established a new journal entitled Coexistence. In Canada he resided in Pickering, Ontario, where he died in 1964.

Works

See also

Notes

  1. Encyclopædia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2003) vol 9. p. 554
  2. For example, Morris Silver, "Redistribution and Markets in the Economy of Ancient Mesopotamia: Updating Polanyi", Antiguo Oriente 5 (2007): 89–112.
  3. http://www.government-online.net/eva-zeisel-obituary/
  4. Dale, Gareth. 2016. Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left. New York, USA and Chichester, UK: Columbia University Press.
  5. Dale, Gareth. 2016. Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left. New York, USA and Chichester, UK: Columbia University Press. P. 13.
  6. "Karl Polanyi: Five Lectures on The Present Age of Transformation-Lecture Series Listing of Topics". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  7. "Letter from President Robert Devore Leigh to Peter Drucker". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  8. "The Passing of 19th Century Civilization (Lecture #1 of 5)". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  9. "The Trend Towards an Integrated Society (Lecture #2 of 5)". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  10. "The Breakdown of the International System (Lecture #3 of 5)". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  11. "Is America an Exception? (Lecture #4 of 5)". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  12. "Marxism and the Inner History of the Russian Revolution". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  13. "Humanism-Lecture Series Listing of Speakers and Topics". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  14. "Bennington College Lecture Series, 1943 – Lecture Series Listing of Speakers and Topics". Bennington College. Bennington College. Retrieved 20 October 2016.

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