A Great Transformation? Global Perspectives on Contemporary Capitalisms

International Conference at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Ever since the global economic area opened up in the 1990s – and most recently, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis – Karl Polanyi’s economic and cultural history of capitalism, published as The Great Transformation in 1944, has been attracting renewed attention. Given his deft analysis of the liberal creed or how he refers to labor, land, and money as fictitious commodities, Polanyi’s critique of capitalism has never disappeared from the discussion. However, the unleashing of the market– and more specifically, of financial markets – has resulted in his ideas being widely received among sociologists, political scientists, and economists from all over the world. Polanyi’s analyses of the relationship between economy and society, and between economy/market and politics/state – along with his perspectives on civil society movements – all seem to be custom-made for capturing the crises, changes, and transformations of contemporary capitalisms. Meanwhile, Polanyi’s ideas and models have been profusely revised, pursued, developed, and checked for appropriateness when analyzing developments in the Global North and South. Moreover, a wealth of answers has emerged to the question of how his particular analysis of society may have inspired sociology, political science, and economics.

The conference A Great Transformation? Global Perspectives on Contemporary Capitalisms seeks to continue this discussion, identify new salient points and study the following questions: How do developments in contemporary capitalisms in the Global North and South constitute a great transformation, i.e. an epochal change in which the relationship between politics/state and economy/market undergoes fundamental changes at the global, international, transnational, and national levels? Have there been parallel, contradictory or interwoven developments and what form do these take? How are they shaped by social inequalities arising from gender, ethnicity and class, by power and dominance,and by conflict and resistance? How can all these developments be considered in light of Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation? How do other analyses of and theories on capitalism rooted in sociology, political science,and economics contribute to social analysis and criticism? Where do they interlink with Polanyi’s perspective and where do they take different paths? All these questions will be thoroughly discussed at this interdisciplinary international conference.

The conference will start with an opening speech by Michael Burawoy, University of California, Berkeley/USA, and conclude with his on-stage conversation with Kari Polanyi Levitt, McGill University, Montreal/Canada. Keynote speakers will be José Luis Coraggio, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires/Argentina and Beverly Silver, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore/USA.

Schedule and further information