Archives par mot-clé : Polanyi

The Organizational Gift and Sociological Approaches to Exchange

KidneyExchange.Al.Cincinnati.transplant.1-30-2006Philippe Steiner, The Organizational Gift and Sociological Approaches to Exchange, FMSH-WP-2014-63, february 2014.

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This paper studies the specific form of gift-giving behavior in which an organization, or a set of organizations, intervenes between the donor and the donee. It is suggested that this should be called an organizational gift, or “organic gift”. Following Richard Titmuss’ insights, the first part considers what happens in the domain of biomedicine, examining here what is meant by a “gift” in the case of organ transplantation, in contrast to the Maussian conceptualization of gift-giving behavior. The second part elaborates this finding, and delineates the main characteristics of this modern form of gift, entailing the presence of organizations in the absence of which the donor and the donee could neither give nor receive. The final part broaden the perspective, including a review of Karl Polanyi’s conception of eciprocity as an integrative form of economic activity, providing a new way of mapping the forms of exchange which present themselves as alternatives to market exchange in our current market societies. Continuer la lecture de The Organizational Gift and Sociological Approaches to Exchange

Can society be commodities all the way down? Polanyian reflections on capitalist crisis

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, revisited by Nancy FraserNancy Fraser, Can society be commodities all the way down? Polanyian reflections on capitalist crisis, FMSH-WP-2012-18, august 2012.

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The author

Nancy Fraser is Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics and at the New School for Social Research in New York. Currently Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Free University of Berlin, she holds the Chair «Rethinking social justice in a globalizing world» at the Collège d’études mondiales, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme.

She has published two books in French: Qu’est-ce que la justice sociale? Reconnaissance et redistribution (La Découverte 2005; 2nd edition 2011) and Le féminisme en mouvements. De l’insurrection des années 1960 au néolibéralisme (forthcoming from La Découverte in October 2012). Her English-language publications include Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space for a Globalizing World (2008); Adding Insult to Injury: Nancy Fraser Debates her Critics, ed. Kevin Olson (2008);Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange (2003) with Axel Honneth; Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the “Postsocialist” Condition (1997); and Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse, and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory (1989).


In his classic 1944 book, The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi traced the roots of capitalist crisis to efforts to create “self-regulating markets” in land, labor, and money. The effect was to turn those three fundamental bases of social life into “fictitious commodities”.The inevitable result, Polanyi claimed, was to despoil nature, rupture communities, and destroy livelihoods. This diagnosis has strong echoes in the 21st century: witness the burgeoning markets in carbon emissions and biotechnology; in child-care, schooling, and the care of the old; and in financial derivatives. In this situation, Polanyi’s idea of fictitious commodification affords a promising basis for an integrated structural analysis that connects three dimensions of the present crisis, the ecological, the social, and the financial. This paper explores the strengths and weaknesses of Polanyi’s idea.


Polanyi, crisis, commodification, capitalism, neolioberalism, critique

La société est-elle totalement marchandisable ? Réflexions polanyiennes sur la crise du capitalisme


Dans La Grande Transformation, son ouvrage classique publié en 1944, Karl Polanyi a lié les origines de la crise capitaliste aux efforts pour créer des « marchés autorégulés » de la terre, du travail et de l’argent. En conséquence, ces trois fondements de la vie sociale ont été transformés en « marchandises fictives ». Le résultat inévitable, affirme Polanyi, a été de dépouiller la nature, rompre les communautés et détruire les moyens de subsistance. Ce diagnostic résonne fortement au XXIe siècle : en témoignent les marchés émergents concernant le carbone et les biothechnologies, les soins aux enfants et aux personnes âgées, l’enseignement, les produits financiers dérivés. Dans cette situation, l’idée de Polanyi de marchandisation fictive procure un fondement prometteur à une analyse structurale intégrée qui connecte les trois dimensions de la crise actuelle, écologique, sociale et financière. Ce papier explore les forces et faiblesses de l’idée de Polanyi.


Polanyi, crise, marchandisation, capitalisme, néolibéralisme, critique

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