Part II – Economic Development and Change


In weeks 3, 4, and 5, we will concentrate on the processes of economic development and change, beginning with the broad historical sweep of processes described by Karl Polanyi.  We’ll use Clark’s short summary as a foil for Polanyi’s more sophisticated and multi-dimensional analysis. Stiglitz’s introduction to the 2010 edition of Polanyi’s classic, The Great Transformation, is written with the knowledge of the 2008 economic crash, but Stiglitz has been writing about market failings and their causes for some time, and he is sympathetic to Polanyi’s central theme – that markets are inevitably embedded in social relationships and require political regulation in order to function.  One can deduce that the prevalence of self-regulating markets (outside a few marginal examples)  can be a dangerous myth, wielded by those who benefit most from their operation.

Key terms

Moral economy

Great divergence

Great transformation

Double movement

Industrial revolution




Institutions (in general, and specifically economic, social, political institutions)


Block, F., & Somers, M. (2003). In the shadow of Speenhamland: social policy and the old poor law. Politics & Society31(2), 283-323.

Jones, P. (2007). Swing, Speenhamland and rural social relations: the ‘moral economy’ of the English crowd in the nineteenth century 1. Social History32(3), 271-290.

Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Harvard University Press.

David Last, updated September 2014, lastdav@gmail.com