Purpose – Inspired by “old” institutional arguments, this chapter presents the ideas of both the “old” and “new” institutional perspective as their arguments appear in the…
Purpose – Inspired by “old” institutional arguments, this chapter presents the ideas of both the “old” and “new” institutional perspective as their arguments appear in the economic anthropology literature following the substantivist–formalist debate of the 1960s.
Design/methodology/approach – During the 1960s the substantivist–formalist debate, otherwise known as the “Great Debate,” thrust institutional thought to the forefront of economic anthropology. By the close of the 1960s, the substantivist–formalist debate passed unresolved. Institutional economic anthropology reached a crossroad – it could continue the legacy of the substantivism as represented by “old” institutionalism or follow the path of “new” institutional economics. Against the long shadow of the “Great Debate,” this chapter identifies key epistemological ideas that are present within the recent history of the institutional economic anthropology literature.
Findings – On the basis of epistemological arguments, the chapter suggests that if the substantivist–formalist debate, often times referred to as the “Great Debate,” is ever to achieve closure, then practitioners of institutional economic anthropology would benefit by moving beyond “new” institutional thought.
Originality/value – This chapter provides a unique evaluation of the institutional perspective within the history of economic anthropology. Residing within this history are clear and poignant distinctions between the “old” and “new” institutional perspectives. As a result, this chapter seeks to bring to social scientists interested in institutional economists, important insights from economic anthropology that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Mainstream economics has long prided itself to be an empirical “science”, at least in aspiration if not yet in practice. Yet, some of the most elementary, commonplace…
Mainstream economics has long prided itself to be an empirical “science”, at least in aspiration if not yet in practice. Yet, some of the most elementary, commonplace premises of the discipline are flatly contradicted by the empirical findings of cultural anthropology. Karl Polanyi made this point:
Being a relatively newer member to the school of Austrian economics, I have seen the world of the economics profession and its many schools of thought through many lenses…
Being a relatively newer member to the school of Austrian economics, I have seen the world of the economics profession and its many schools of thought through many lenses. Having this different perspective, I disagree with Pete Boettke on his ideas for ways to change the procedural way the Austrian school does economics. We need to be empirical about not just the economy, but of the history of economic thought. I believe the main goal should not be higher impact factors, but true progression of scientific knowledge. More focus on what we are doing, and less on counting articles.
The Nationalökonomische Gesellschaft (Austrian Economic Association, NOeG) provides a prominent example of the Viennese economic circles and associations that more than…
The Nationalökonomische Gesellschaft (Austrian Economic Association, NOeG) provides a prominent example of the Viennese economic circles and associations that more than academic economics dominated scientific discourse in the interwar years. For the first time this chapter gives a thorough account of its history, from its foundation in 1918 until the demise of its long-time president, Hans Mayer, 1955, based on official documents and archival material. The topics treated include its predecessor and rival, the Gesellschaft österreichischer Volkswirte, its foundation in 1918 soon to be followed by years of inactivity, the relaunch by Mayer and Mises, the survival under the NS-regime and the expulsion of its Jewish members and the slow restoration after 1945. In particular, an attempt is made to provide a list of the papers presented to the NOeG, as complete as possible, for the period 1918–1938.
The course and development of capitalism is a central issue in socio‐logical analysis (Marx, 1936; Harrington, 1976; Bernstein, 1985; Badham, 1984; Baran and Sweezy, 1977; Dahrendorf, 1959; Mandel, 1976). Though there is little agreement on the destiny of capitalism, there is general recognition that capitalism has been altered by recent social change. These changes have been widely discussed around ideas pertaining to the regulation of economic actors, legal constraints on wages and the general increase of welfare programmes. Of these developments, welfare and social services have been the most carefully monitored in the sociological literature. Since welfare programmes provide goods and services without regard to social and economic status, welfare has been correctly interpreted as a significant modification of capitalism.
Most of the literature on the World Bank struggles to understand precisely how effective are the Bank’s projects and policies, emphasizing at the same time as reaffirming certain universal parameters with which to measure the good and the bad. This article, by contrast, argues for a different way of seeing the World Bank, that is, for scholarship that interrogates the political rationalities which underlie these distinctions and categories and which make these parameters and measures viable, necessary, and enduring. Indeed, most writings – including the innumerable self‐evaluations carried out by the Bank – simultaneously note the enormity of the Bank’s past misdeeds as well as its unique position as the only global institution up to the monumental task of translating global truths into global plans of action. Because of its unique role as the global development expert, the Bank is always two steps ahead of the pack, always re‐assessing and re‐tooling for improvement in ways that most national and international institutions cannot. Who else can respond so quickly to catastrophes around the globe – appearing one month in Thailand, the next in Argentina, and, in a bomb’s flash, in Afghanistan and Iraq? In a world in which global crises routinely erupt and “require” global experts of development to resolve them, the Bank and its affiliates in the World Bank Group have no rivals. But, rather than ask why the Bank’s responses are ultimately insufficient or flawed, we must first ask how problems get defined in terms of global crises and their solutions in terms of global development institutions in the first place? How did these ideas and institutions become so influential? What power dynamics do they embody?
Karl Polanyi (1886–1964) was educated in Hungary, worked in exile in Vienna in the 1920s, and after 1933 alternated his residence between England and the USA. His early career was in law and philosophy, then international relations. From 1940 to his death, he concentrated on universal economic history, a broadly defined area encompassing fields that are more conventionally known as economic anthropology, economic history, and comparative economic systems. This work aimed ultimately at the creation of a new and more universal economic theory, founded on the interaction of economy and society, i.e., social economics.
This article aims to show that studies of transnational risk regulation can benefit from Polanyian and neo-Polanyian research agendas in the field of law, economy, and…
This article aims to show that studies of transnational risk regulation can benefit from Polanyian and neo-Polanyian research agendas in the field of law, economy, and society. Risk regulation would then be understood as a corrective force within the market society. Drawing on the relevant literature in the field, Karl Polanyi’s work is contextualized both in the past (“scholarship before and beside Polanyi”) and in the present (“scholarship after and beyond Polanyi”). The review considers developments within sociology, its neighboring disciplines economics and jurisprudence, and the interdisciplinary research fields of “economy and society,” “law and society,” and “law and economy.” The article demonstrates that Polanyi is a “late classic” who shares the holistic orientation of classical historical scholarship. At the same time, it is argued that his “early revival” is due to the topicality of his criticism of the market society, and its inherent risks, in an era of neoliberalism and globalization. By going back and forth in time, the article situates Polanyi in a line of holistically minded scholarship that combines insights of general, economic, and legal sociology in what can be called the “economic sociology of law.” This is “old” and “new,” at the same time.
This article starts from the assumption that economic sociology, including Karl Polanyi’s work, can contribute fresh perspectives to regulation debates because it opens up new understandings of the nature of economic activity, a key target of legal regulation. In particular this article examines Polanyi’s idea that society drives regulation. For Polanyi the “regulatory counter-movement” is society’s response to the disembedding – in particular through the proliferation of markets – of economic out of social relationships. Section One of the article identifies three key challenges that arise from this Polanyian take on regulation for contemporary regulation researchers. First, Polanyi focuses on social norms restraining business behavior, but neglects social norms embedded in law as also shaping regulation. Second, he seems to imply a clear-cut conceptual distinction between “economy” and “society.” Third, his analysis sidelines the role of interest politics in the development of regulation.
Addressing the first of these three key challenges, Section Two of this article therefore argues that a Polanyian vision of “socialized” legal regulation should build on contemporary accounts of responsive law and regulation, which focus attention on social norms informing legal regulation. Section Three of this article tackles the second key challenge raised by Polanyi’s work for contemporary regulation researchers, that is, how to transcend a modernist perspective of “economy” and “society” as clearly demarcated, distinct fields of social action. It argues that discourse theory is an important alternative theoretical resource. Drawing on Laclau and Mouffe, the article suggests that understanding “economy” and “society” as performed by open and relationally constructed discourses helps to capture interconnections between “economy” and “society” that become particularly visible when we analyze how specific regulatory regimes work at a medium- and small-scale level. These points are further brought to life in Section Four through a discussion of the European Union (EU) regulatory regime for trade in risky, transgenic agricultural products, and in particular the current reform debates about the consideration of the “socioeconomic impacts” of such products.
This chapter examines Karl Polanyi's critique of formalism in economics and his case for a more institutional economics based upon a reconstitution of the facts of…
This chapter examines Karl Polanyi's critique of formalism in economics and his case for a more institutional economics based upon a reconstitution of the facts of economic life on as wide an historical basis as possible. The argument below reviews Polanyi's argument with regard to the relation between economic anthropology and comparative economics, the contrast between the formalist and substantive approaches to economic analysis, the notion of an economistic fallacy, the most important limitations of the conventional formalist economics approach, and the nature and import of the new departure that Polanyi envisioned.