The Life and Work of Karl Polanyi develops Polanyi's thinking for its significance to the practice of economics and everyday life in democratic societies at the same time as conveying an impression of the man, his times, and his place in the evolution of social and economic thought.
Karl Polanyi believed that the greatest threat to freedom was a poorly administered economy. His search for economic and political institutions which reconciled society's moral need for freedom with the requirements of our complex technological civilization led him to believe in the possibility and necessity of an economics that was more existential and human-centered. He did not underestimate the significance of livelihood to lives; he recognized that an inadequate quantity of the former was detrimental to the quality of the latter. He emphasised nonetheless that beyond sufficient livelihood, preoccupation with the pursuit of even more economic wealth greatly erodes the quality of human existence.
Economist Prof. J.R. Stanfield observed: "In his life and in his work Polanyi seems to represent a unique and compelling blend of the Enlightenment tradition with the more existential thinking of the twentieth century. His economics was both holistic and sharply focused on the effects of economic forces on the life of the human individual."
The interest that Polanyi's The Great Transformation (1944) continues to attract reflects the growing appreciation of the relevance of his thinking on a variety of contemporary issues.
This is Volume Seven in the series 'Critical Perspectives on Historic Issues'.
About the Author
Kari Polanyi Levitt is professor of economics at McGill University and author of the bestseller Silent Surrender.
What People Are Saying
"Polanyi's insights into the social and political impact of the market-driven economy were both timely and prescient, and have guaranteed him a place among the great thinkers of the 20th century." Canadian Book Review Annual