The Shift from Traditional Societies to a Market Society

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Material and ideological conditions are integral components of a market society, which interacted and changed the ways we view market society today. I will discuss the shift from traditional societies to a market society to explain what Polanyi refers to as “the great transformation”. I will then talk about the changes that have occurred in the workplace, the impact on these workers, and the worldview of those in a market society. According to Polanyi, a market economy becomes a market society when all land, labour and capital are commodified (Polanyi, 1957). A market society is a structure, which primarily focuses on the production and distribution of commodities and services. This takes place through a free market system, which allows…show more content…
As Bendix explains, Weber believed that if a man’s hard work was seen as being naturally rewarding, that he would then work for his personal satisfaction (Bendix, 1962). This is referred to as the “spirit of capitalism”, which is a contrasted term to “traditionalism”, where workers prefer less work to more pay, seek maximum comfort and minimum exertion during working hours, and are unable or unwilling to adapt themselves to new methods of work. Adherence to “traditionalism” is incompatible with the idea of “hard work as a virtue and hence a moral obligation”, or the “spirit of capitalism” (Bendix, 1962, p.52). Therefore, the “spirit of capitalism” is the idea and quality of living, which favours the rational pursuit of economic gain. A man’s hard work was to be seen as naturally rewarding and would therefore work for his own personal satisfaction. Polanyi’s describes Adam Smith’s idea of the “economic man”, as a notion of human nature in which we are meant to exchange (Polanyi, 1957). Since we are living in a market society, people must adopt a capitalistic mindset that seeks individual advantage that puts individual needs over social needs. This mindset supports the capitalist mode of production, as we concern ourselves with making money so we can buy things, which is essentially capitalisms goal. With this mindset, workers strive to work longer hours on clock time, to earn a wage in order to buy things for their own satisfaction. Bendix also discusses
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