Between Aristotle and the Welfare State

The Establishment, Enforcement, and Transformation of the Moral Economy in Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation

in Theoria
Author: Sener Akturk
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William Booth's 'On the Idea of the Moral Economy' (1994) is a scathing critique of the economic historians labelled as 'moral economists', chief among them Karl Polanyi, whose The Great Transformation is the groundwork for much of the later theorizing on the subject. The most devastating of Booth's criticisms is the allegation that Polanyi's normative prescriptions have anti-democratic, Aristotelian and aristocratic undertones for being guided by a preconceived notion of 'the good'. This article presents an attempt to rescue Polanyi from this charge by reinterpreting his view of the relationship between the economic and the political, while elucidating the practical meaning of a moral economy.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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