Karl Polanyi in Vienna: The Contemporary Significance of the Great Transformation

Karl Polanyi in Vienna

Edited by Kari Levitt and Kenneth McRobbie. 2000.


Karl Polanyi’s belief that the greatest threat to freedom was a poorly administered economy led him to an economics that was more existential and human-centered. Part I of this book develops Polanyi’s thinking for its significance today through a selection of papers on re-reading his major work entitled The Great Transformation. Part II looks at the life and work of Ilona Duczynska (Polanyi’s wife), political activist, writer and translator and important influence over Karl and his work.


“It is because basic human needs of security, affection, respect and protection have no place in formal economics that the transformation of the capitalist order requires a new calculus of the value of work, the value of human needs, and the value of nature. When economic decisions have to be made, the underlying value system must be one that accords with the realities of real people living in real socieites, one that acknowledges our very real dependence on the natural environment and its very real limitations.” From Development and Regionalism, Karl Polanyi’s Ideas and the Contemporary World by Professor Kari Polanyi Levitt.

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