This chapter responds to Fred Block's article about the weaknesses of the concept of capitalism because of its close association with Marxism, and his proposal for a Polanyian analysis of political economy. In this chapter, I interrogate what may be the commonalities as opposed to divergences between Marx and Polanyi, and I question whether the concept of capitalism is really so wedded to Marxism so as to loose its analytic value, and be better replaced by notions such as market society, or political economy, as used by Polanyi. I agree with Block that a Polanyian analysis importantly widens our view beyond economic reductionism to an understanding of economy and society as co-constitutive. However, I see utility in adding the qualifier “capitalist” to “political economy” to differentiate between socialist and capitalist political economies, for instance, and to properly characterize a system based on private property rights, guided by pursuit of material gain, which advantages some strata in society more than others, leading to endemic social inequality. I propose that a Polanyian focus on society and economy as co-constitutive is more effectively coupled with an analysis that considers capitalism not as a self-driven system of surplus extraction and accumulation, but as an institutional order dependent on political choices. Such a perspective would advance a Polanyian analysis of capitalism.
Bandelj, N. (2012), "A Polanyian Analysis of Capitalism: A Commentary on Fred Block", Go, J. (Ed.) Political Power and Social Theory (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 293-302. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0198-8719(2012)0000023014Download as .RIS
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