1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook on Karl Polanyi

Edited By Michele Cangiani, Claus Thomasberger Copyright 2024

    Karl Polanyi is one of the most influential social scientists of our era. A report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) begins by noting that we are in a "Polanyi era": a time of dangerously unregulated markets, where the greatest need for decisive political action is matched by the least trust in politics.

    This handbook provides a comprehensive of recent research on Polanyi’s work and ideas, including the central place occupied by his thinking on the relationship between economics and politics. The stellar line-up of contributors to this book explore Polanyi’s work reflecting the intrinsic interdisciplinarity of Polanyi’s approach to understanding our society, its place in history, its fundamental dynamics, and its contradictions, as well as the methodological issues he raises.

    The handbook broadly follows a chronological structure beginning with influences on Polanyi, his formative experiences and early works. A significant section is dedicated to Polanyi’s seminal work, The Great Transformation, and its impact. Further sections also look at Polanyi’s wider influence, on various disciplines and methodological debates, and his ongoing relevance for present-day issues including debates on populism, neoliberalism and low carbon transitions.

    This handbook is a vital resource for students and scholars of economics, politics, sociology, and other social sciences.

    List of contributors


    Part 1: Polanyi’s early training

    1. Károly Polányi’s Hungary

    János Gyurgyák

    2. On the edge of Austro-Marxism

    Diego De Bernardin Stadoan

    3. The socialist calculation debate and the problem of modern civilization

    Claus Thomasberger

    Part 2: The ‘Great Transformation’

    I . In theory

    4. Polanyi and neoliberalism

    Bob Jessop

    5. Twenty-first-century capitalism between embeddedness and disembeddedness: Karl Polanyi and beyond

    Cristiano Fonseca Monteiro and Raphael Jonathas da Costa Lima

    6. Antimonies of the ‘double movement’: From Polanyi to the Polanyi debate

    Eren Duzgun

    7. Markets, Protectionism and Self-Regulation: A key to the ‘Great Transformation’

    Hannes Lacher

    II . Its history

    8. The League of Nations’ program ‘Financial Reconstruction of Austria’ and Polanyi’s economic and political theory

    Maria Markantonatou

    9. The World Economic Crisis of the 1930s. Polanyi’s analysis of the Great Depression, and the current global crisis

    Kari Polanyi Levitt

    10. Observing the transformation. Polanyi’s writings in the interwar period

    Michele Cangiani

    11. Polanyi’s unorthodox contribution to the study of fascism

    Kris Millett and Sang Hun Lim

    12. Karl Polanyi and the ‘international civil war’: The analysis of a lucid witness and interpreter of his time

    Francesco Soverina

    13. Karl Polanyi’s idea of co-existence: War and peace in the international frames of politics and economy in the interwar period

    Chikako Nakayama

    14. After World War II: Universal capitalism or regional planning?

    Claus Thomasberger

    Part 3: Historical and anthropological studies

    15. Polanyi’s anthropological insights: a comparative-holistic approach

    Justin A. Elardo

    16. Karl Polanyi and the study of the Ancient Mediterranean and Western Asia

    David Tandy

    17. Karl Polanyi on money

    Jérôme Maucourant

    Part 4: Methodology and political philosophy

    18. Freedom and socialism

    Michael Brie

    19. Polanyi versus Hayek. The problem of freedom and democracy in the market society

    Paula Valderrama

    20. Marx and Polanyi: A philosophical encounter

    Hüseyin Özel

    21. Polanyi reads Marx

    Michele Cangiani

    22. Polanyi’s institutionalism between the lines

    Sabine Frerichs

    23. Karl Polanyi’s institutionalist approach and its contemporary value for the social sciences

    Giorgio Resta

    24. How theories shape, and are shaped by history

    Chaitawat Boonjubun and Asad Zaman

    25. Making interdependence Übersichtlich: Reading Polanyi through a (neo)republican Lens

    Louis Mosar

    Part 5: Current problems and debates

    26. Where Polanyi is more relevant than ever: Social justice and technical productivity in scientific knowledge production

    Emrah Irzik and Gürol Irzik

    27. Chronicler of the interregnum. Karl Polanyi and the War in Ukraine

    Florin Poenaru

    28. The double movement in the Global South: Critiques, extensions, and new horizons

    Geoff Goodwin

    29. The ecological thought of Karl Polanyi and his contribution to ecological economics

    Federico Zuberman

    30. Karl Polanyi in the transition to a low-carbon and biodiverse society

    Peadar Kirby

    31. Ecosocialist freedom through participatory democratic planning

    Pat Devine



    Michele Cangiani, Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia, Italy

    Claus Thomasberger, University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, Germany

    “Karl Polanyi made seminal contributions to political economy, social theory, and anthropology, as well as providing a running commentary on the epochal changes that were unfolding in his time. This collection of essays explores his ideas on a multitude of topics—fascism, science and technology, institutionalism, and all points in between. Comprehensive in coverage and expertly curated, this is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on Polanyi’s life and work.”

    Gareth Dale, Reader in Political Economy at Brunel University, London

    “This collection of articles by leading Polanyi scholars transcends disciplinary boundaries. By addressing the wide range of issues that preoccupied Polanyi over a lifetime, readers will also discover their remarkable coherence. Throughout his writings, Polanyi insisted upon the societal consequences of disembedding the economy from society. Today, the urgent need to rethink the relationship between the economy, society and nature, draws upon the work of Karl Polanyi. This handbook is not only a major contribution to Polanyi scholarship; it is major contribution to an intellectual counter-movement to the dominant paradigm.”

    Marguerite Mendell, Director of the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, Concordia University, Montreal

    “This handbook is a timely contribution to ongoing debates of putting the economy in its place. It compiles contributions by renown scholars debating key Polanyian concepts as well as exploring Polanyian insights for better understanding contemporary political economy. A must-read for scholars researching ongoing multiple crises and societal transformations.”

    Andreas Novy, President of the International Karl Polanyi Society, WU Vienna University of Economics