Karl Polanyi: The Emergence Of Market Society

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Taking a look at the evolution of society as a whole, structures from previous social organizations vary drastically from the civilization individuals reside in today; now known as a 'market society.' It has shifted towards a society where members of the community are now solely concerned about economic relations, rather than interpersonal relations. This is what Karl Polanyi refers to the emergence of market society as "the great transformation." The shift towards a market society is characterized by the emergence of a self-regulation society, allowing the birth of fictitious commodities, as well as placing great emphasis towards individualism. It focuses on the significant changes that have taken place since the transformation, which are further discussed through the notion of "protestant work ethic" and the…show more content…
Commodities, according to Polanyi, are objects that are "produced for sale on the market… between buyers and sellers" (Polanyi, 72). With that being said, land, labour and money may be essential elements of an industry, but they are not seen as commodities. As the transition towards a market society occurred, these fundamentals have increasingly become the main elements of production and are used in order to have a greater overall performance in the market. However, due to the expansion of the market society and the increasing rate of land, labor and money, many changes have occurred from previous organizations. In previous years, social organizations were run under feudal order, and it was necessary for industries to be formed by part of the social organization itself (Polanyi, 69). However, as society has transitioned, civilizations have adjusted from a time where "labor and land were protected from being turned into objects for sale (Polanyi, 70), to it now being used as commodities which are slowly becoming included into the market

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