Cover: The Power of Market Fundamentalism: Karl Polanyi’s Critique, from Harvard University PressCover: The Power of Market Fundamentalism in PAPERBACK

The Power of Market Fundamentalism

Karl Polanyi’s Critique

Product Details


$26.00 • £22.95 • €23.95

ISBN 9780674970885

Publication Date: 08/29/2016


312 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

4 graphs, 4 tables


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In seeking to understand the dynamics of our own time, we can do no better than to revisit Polanyi… Block and Somers provide a thorough reprise of Polanyi for readers new to him and careful analysis for specialists. The best part of their book is its introductory chapter, a well-integrated and brisk summary of the man and his ideas. Other chapters provide useful discussions of what Polanyi’s social history gets right and slightly wrong, as well as astute comparisons of Polanyi with Keynes and Marx… As more of us are having second thoughts about the second coming of the primal market, it is as if Polanyi is somewhere in the ether. Rereading Polanyi at a time when events vindicate his vision, one has to be struck with the eerie contemporary ring. Polanyi is startlingly 21st-century in addressing how the private rule of global finance puts public policy in a straitjacket.—Robert Kuttner, American Prospect

Two of the smartest and most erudite sociologists at work today, Block and Somers deftly trace the biographical origins of Polanyi’s ideas and elucidate the philosophical, historical, and economic literatures he alludes to. The result is a lucid, engaging, and often brilliant guidebook to The Great Transformation that shows just how much we need Polanyi today… Everyone should be reading The Great Transformation these days. But first they should probably read The Power of Market Fundamentalism.—Frank Dobbin, American Journal of Sociology

A timely book. More and more people are reading and quoting Polanyi, but they don’t always understand him. The Power of Market Fundamentalism undertakes to situate Polanyi’s thinking in our time and relate it to the events that have taken place since the publication of The Great Transformation in 1944. It also draws on biographical material in a way that only the two authors are able to. It does an excellent job of exploring how the world changed in a neoliberal direction when at the end of World War II everyone believed that capitalism would forever be under control.—Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne

Karl Polanyi’s analysis should be an invaluable resource for social scientists, policy makers, and intelligent citizens who are grappling to find better ways of interpreting the economic and social distress that grips so many formerly comfortable societies of the industrialized North. Block and Somers, who are the premier analysts of Polanyi’s work, do a wonderful job of bringing this invaluable resource to bear on today’s debates.—Peter Evans, University of California, Berkeley

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