Polanyi: The Economic Man

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According to Adam Smith, man has a natural “propensity to barter, truck and exchange one thing for another” (Polanyi 43). This concept, coined the “Economic Man”, contributed to what Polanyi refers to as a “capitalist psychology”. Polanyi indicates that this propensity was in fact difficult to observe in communities during that time period (Polanyi 42). It was only after major changes from industrialization and the creation of the new market society where his claim became true and accurate as a description of the newfound human nature. Prior to the market society, markets did not play a huge role in society. The main forms of economic systems were based on redistribution, reciprocity and householding. Reciprocity was the practice of community
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