Karl Polanyi's Double Movement

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In his writings, Karl Polanyi argued that the modern concept of the economy emerged during the nineteenth century as a separate sphere through political processes as the government attempted to disembed previous market mechanisms to make them independent. The process of disembedding would cause an inordinate amount of harm to society if left uncontrolled. He conceptualized a “double movement” that would combat the growth of the market economy because society would create networks “designed to check the action of the market relative to labor, land and money.” He used the examples of England’s Speenhamland and Poor Laws to illustrate government interventions that attempted to provide some net for those hurt by the growth of the markets. In Polanyi’s…show more content…
While in Britain, Polanyi believed that the movement was a “comprehensive feature of the age,” later analysis of the double movement theory show that the feature did not carry through the ages. Instead, it took different shapes depending on what part of the world the growth occurred and depended on the values of the society. In a comparative analysis of double movements in Britain and the US, Silver and Arrighi look at how Polanyi’s double movement interact with the movement towards self-regulating markets. What they found was that US economic policy in the 1940s placed great restraints on the market and allowed the government better control over the economic growth that was occurring. This evidence suggests that the double movement is not a naturally occurring phenomenon that arises as a reaction to market
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