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Karl Polanyi in Budapest: On his Political and Intellectual Formation

  • Gareth Dale (a1)

Abstract

A major thinker and inspiring teacher, Karl Polanyi's contributions have long been influential in a variety of disciplines, notably economic sociology and economic history. Two of his innovations, substantivist economic anthropology and the “double movement thesis,” are recognized as seminal. All of the works for which he is known, however, were written late in life, when in exile, and very little is known of his Hungarian writings, virtually none of which had, until now, been translated. Despite his fame, the biographical literature on Polanyi remains modest: some studies provide invaluable insights, yet all are brief. This article attempts to make some headway in remedying these lacunae. It sketches the contours of that extraordinary historical-geographical conjuncture in which he was formed, and explores his intellectual and political engagements in the Galilei Circle and the Radical Bourgeois Party. It seeks in particular to elucidate the complex roles played by questions of nation, ethnicity and class in the life of the young Karl Polanyi.

Grand penseur et maître prestigieux, Karl Polanyi a longtemps exercé une forte influence dans plusieurs champs disciplinaires, principalement sociologie économique et histoire économique. Deux de ses apports, l'anthropologie économique substantive et la thèse du double mouvement se sont vues reconnaître valeur pionnière. Cependant toute son œuvre connue a été écrite tard dans sa vie, en exil et on sait peu sur ses textes hongrois qui, pour la plupart, n’avaient jusqu’alors pas été traduits. En dépit de sa renommée, on a assez peu de travaux biographiques sur lui, hormis quelques brefs aperçus de qualité. L'article entend remédier à cette lacune en esquissant le tableau de cette extraordinaire conjonction historico-géographique dans laquelle il s'est formé et en explorant ses engagements intellectuels et politiques dans le cercle Galilée et le parti bourgeois radical. Au premier plan on a le rôle des questions touchant à Nation, Ethnicité et Classe dans la vie du jeune Polanyi.

Vordenker und Leitfigur, Karl Polanyis Beiträge haben über lange Zeit zahlreiche Disziplinen, vor allen Dingen die Wirtschaftssoziologie und -geschichte, beeinflusst. Zwei seiner Überlegungen, die substantive Wirtschaftsanthropologie und die These der Doppelbewegung, sind Pionierarbeiten. Im Gegensatz zu seinen Exilschriften sind seine ungarischen Arbeiten kaum bekannt, da zum größten Teil bis jetzt unübersetzt. Auch ist relativ wenig über seine Person geschrieben worden, eine Lücke, die dieser Aufsatz schließen will. Im Mittelpunkt steht das außergewöhnliche Zusammenspiel von Historie und Geographie, dessen Zeitzeuge er war. Ebenso wird sein intellektuelles und politisches Engagement im Galilei-Kreis und der radikalen bürgerlichen Partei beleuchtet. Schwerpunkte sind Nation, Ethnizität und Klasse im Leben des jungen Karl Polanyi.

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Karl Polanyi in Budapest: On his Political and Intellectual Formation

  • Gareth Dale (a1)

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