RE-INVENTING KARL POLANYI: ON THE CONTRADICTORY INTERPRETATIONS OF SOCIAL PROTECTIONISM
The ideas of Karl Polanyi's 'The Great Transformation' have often been referred to in the recent debates that have emerged as a reaction to the rise of neo-liberal policies. This paper deals with contradictory interpretations of the notion of social protectionism in the work of Karl Polanyi. There are two opposing interpretations distinguished here. The first interprets social protectionism as a balancing principle of economic liberalism. The second understands social protectionism as a part of market pathology. In order to assess the validity of competing interpretations, the author puts forth an account of social protectionism in the context of Polanyi's theory of the economy and society. The author concludes that the popular notion of social protectionism as a balancing principle of economic liberalism does not correspond to Polanyi's theory. In addition, the author offers a skeptical commentary on the utility of Polanyi for understanding social protectionism in social analysis.
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