The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the debate on the consequences of globalization, in particular the increasing disparity between the wealth of nations and individuals in society. It discusses mechanisms which lead to perpetuation and reinforcement of the situation in which, despite being characterized by inequalities and fragmentation, societies remain by and large cohesive and stable.
This article engages with the so‐called “Polanyi problem” and with Polanyi's and other authors’ responses to it. In the discussion, the analytical approach is adopted by reference to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, in particular his concept of soma.
Using the metaphor of soma, developed into four interrelated dimensions, illustrations of social and organizational processes, which ensure sustainability of, and cohesion within, a society based on inequality and fragmentation, are indicated. It is argued that the existence of stratified societies, and inequalities of wealth within and between them, is accompanied by phenomena which support and sustain them.
Drawing upon literary fiction can offer valuable insights into issues pertinent to contemporary academic debate.
Engagement with Huxley's work provides an alternative way of contributing to the globalization debate and, in particular, to the literature addressing the so‐called “Polanyi problem”.
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