In The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi Speaks Of The

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In The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi speaks of the shift from traditional society to a market society as the ‘great transformation’. In The Making of Economic Society, Robert Heilbroner addresses key areas in which our market society differs from previous social structures. In The Tyranny of Work, James W. Rinehart addresses how this shift affected workers. Finally, through interpretation of Max Weber’s works in Max Weber, Richard Bendix addresses how the Protestant Reformation made way for the work ethic required for a market society to flourish. This essay will explore the arguments made by these authors in order to demonstrate how the shift from traditional society to a market society was a fundamental transformation. Polanyi…show more content…
Heilbroner comes to similar conclusions through similar analysis of historical civilization. He investigates what he refers to as the economic problem – composed of mobilization, allocation, and distribution. A society must mobilize individuals for productive purposes, allocate their productive powers for the correct purposes, and distribute the fruits of labour as to allow for further production. All three issues must be satisfactorily solved for an economy to function, for society “must not only overcome the stringencies of nature, but also contain and control the intransigence of human nature” (Heilbroner 7). Heilbroner formulates three solutions to the economic problem. Two of which, tradition and command, have been found throughout human history, while market is new to modern society. Tradition is based in following in the footsteps of historic trial and error, where economic roles are passed down through close kin to maintain society’s careful balance. On the other hand, command is based upon society operating under the rule of an economic leader, where centralized orders control production. Interestingly enough, there is a correlation to the guiding principles of reciprocity and redistribution respectively. Market society, based upon the capitalist thought of the eighteenth century, is radically different. Due to both the changing material conditions of the
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