Home > Uncategorized > Meta-theory and pluralism in the methodology of Polanyi

Meta-theory and pluralism in the methodology of Polanyi

from Asad Zaman

Currently, I am teaching a course in Advanced Microeconomics where I have started with the premise that conventional economic theory, both Micro and Macro are fundamentally wrong. The number of ways in which they are wrong cannot even be counted. Instead of enumerating errors, the course is devoted to providing a constructive alternative. A lot of the early lectures deal with the basic concepts of optimization and equilibrium, the fundamental building blocks of conventional courses, and explain how these are wrong. I also explain how economists are using a wrong methodology, and how they misunderstand the concept of a theoretical model, and the relations between models and reality. The video-taped lectures, PPT slides, and some supporting materials, are available from my website: https://sites.google.com/site/az4math/

Originally, I had not planned to teach Karl Polanyi because his theories are significantly more complex than those of Karl Marx and Adam Smith. However, because the class has been very receptive, and has understood the what I have been teaching, I have decided to explain his ideas. We have already started discussing his ideas starting from Lecture 13, and have finished Part I of the Great Transformation in Lecture 16. In order to prepare for the complexities of Part II, I have distributed the following handout to the class, to explain the complex general methodological framework which underlies Polanyi’s analysis.  Read More

  1. antireifier
    May 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    As a social worker with 48 years of practice, I was frequently aware of the psychological effects of uncertainty in people’s lives. My own personal motto became “Give me ambiguity or Give me something else.”

    BTW there is a typo I think in the essay at #8. The word THOUGH appears but I can only make sense of the sentence if I substitute “THOUGHT” for it.

    • May 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      I grew up in USA (a used to be small semi-southern town called wash dc. i’m still here. i live in trump hotel and vacation at white house).

      in declaration of independence, the usa mtto is not ‘give me ambiguity or give me something else’ but rather ‘give me conveniance or give me death’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Kennedys we also have ‘gimme gimme schock treatment’ (milton friedman, naomi klein, ramones)

  2. May 6, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    I enjoyed this post Amad, especially your further elaboration on Polanyi’s complexities.

    What do you make out of this comment of the reviewer in the NY Review of Books on Frank Trentmann’s “Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers….” on a key period in economic history for Polanyi:

    ” Indeed the taste for good in the lower echelons (as the historian Jan de Vries has argued) prodded whole families into wage earning, creating a labor force for industrialization.”

    My, my, talk about leaping over almost all the contested signifiers for this era: enclosure, Poor Laws, invidious theories based on pre-Darwinian nastiness in nature…the lower orders only wanted more goods, and so the whole family had to work. Great timing too… So much for the terrible 1840’s. The reviewer is Deborah Cohen of Northwestern in the current issue of the NY Review of Books…http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/05/25/consumer-society-more-is-more/

  3. May 7, 2017 at 3:00 am

    Yes. Thank you. A new story requires roots from some agreed upon time past. Enclosure is a good place to start; pure science has a grasp back in time a very long way before that.

    And what is enclosure when it reaches continental scale genocide of indigenous peoples and cannot stop when that job is done?

    • robert locke
      May 9, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      “And what is enclosure when it reaches continental scale genocide of indigenous peoples and cannot stop when that job is done?”

      I don’t know if you ever looked at the agricultural revolution. Most people associate it with the introduction of machinery into farming during the 19th century, but the agricultural revolution really began in crop and land management in the two centuries before. Read Mingay on the agricultural revolution. The enclosure movement was a vital part of this transformation. Arthur Young, who wrote about it in late 18th century England, also wrote about the conditions of French farming after making extensive trips through France at the time of the French revolution, and noting the terrible conditions of French land management, and the severe depression in life living standards in the French countryside. Learn something about the agriculture revolution and the part crop rotation, and animal husbandry played in it, which involved enclosures as it moved eastward across the European continent. It constituted a revolution in food production..

  4. May 9, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    I really like this post and have begun reading Asad’s lectures, noted above. So far I find them enjoyable, articulate, and enlightening. I learn best by sharing, as in team study.
    I invite anyone living in my realm of thought to contact me and propose communication around Asad’s lectures, within the context of the current rebellion against neoclassical economics.

    My realm of thought is this:
    “Predatory limited-liability corporate capitalism rules. As we address our issues and pursue our causes, if we do not always account for the fact that the corporation is the dominant institution of our time we will miss a core fundamental. We are governed by corporate plutocracy, not democracy. This is the elephant in the room and if we don’t confront it at every turn we are missing the big picture. And our best reform efforts will fail.”

    If we are on the same page about this and you wish to begin a communication, at first by email, please contact me

  5. antireifier
    May 9, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqJL-cM8gb4&t=3s Check this out. And this next one.

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