Economy, approached by Polanyi from a substantive perspective, understands the human livelihood as exchanges between human being and natural and social environment. This framework of universal reference reveals the conditions in which market and planning could coexist and made individuals free from mercantile attitude.
Market economy results from a complex historical process which led to an extension of private ownership rights beyond property used for production and consumption: nature, work and money, or more broadly, the symbolic, key dimension of human existence. This system of relationship between man and society, combined with industrial method of production gave to owners’ capitalist properties rights, the right to orient production and consumption of mankind as a whole. Their interventions on the flow of trade and calculation of prices prevent merchant self-regulation to lead to a self-sustainable economy. Such a change necessitates taking account of the costs in the calculation of prices. This change in accounting could not become effective in the political practices, without law and planning of production processes to be seen as parts of social environment of human beings living in society.
Hence, the dire predictions for the post-war world, made by Polanyi in The Great Transformation (1944), on the basis of what happened in the middle of the 19th century, may be foiled.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Economy from a substantive perspective and well-being“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.