Universität Wien

040236 KU Further Topics in Economic Sociology (MA) (2021W)

Origins of Our Time: The Great Transformation After 77 Years

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 4 - Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 24 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Due to travel restriction this course must be offered online.

Monday 18.10. 17:00 - 20:00 Digital
Wednesday 20.10. 17:00 - 20:00 Digital
Monday 08.11. 17:00 - 19:00 Digital
Wednesday 10.11. 17:00 - 19:00 Digital
Friday 12.11. 17:00 - 19:00 Digital
Wednesday 17.11. 17:00 - 19:00 Digital
Friday 19.11. 17:00 - 19:00 Digital
Monday 06.12. 17:00 - 20:00 Digital
Friday 10.12. 17:00 - 20:00 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

There has been a revival of interest in the writings of Karl Polanyi in the last several decades, but there are significant differences of interpretation of his arguments and there has been a tendency by scholars to pull particular quotes or concepts from Polanyi without
grasping the larger structure of his intellectual project. In this course, we will seek a holistic understanding of The Great Transformation and show that his work provides us with some conceptual tools that are extremely useful in making sense of contemporary political, economic, and environmental crises. Polanyi’s analysis of the disastrous consequences of subordinating society to the market in the 19th and early 20th century provides a powerful template for understanding the consequences of neoliberal or market fundamentalist policies over the last four decades. Students will be expected to master Polanyi’s key concepts such as fictitious commodities, the double movement, the free market utopia, and his critique of the gold standard. They will also be able to distinguish Polanyi’s analyses from those of other theorists.
The focus of the course will be on the careful reading of The Great Transformation and a relatively small number of secondary works. Class meetings will be a combination of lectures, discussions, and student presentations. Students will write a paper on an approved topic and deliver a ten or fifteen minute presentation of their argument to the seminar. They will also be expected to participate actively in class discussion both asking and answering questions.

Assessment and permitted materials

Continuous participation, presentation and paper (see below)

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Attendance is mandatory (2 times unexcused absence is permitted, at most one of online meetings and at most one of classroom meetings). Students will be evaluated on their class participation (10%), a prospectus for the term paper (20%), an oral presentation (15%), the final research paper (45%), and a short paper on one of the instructor’s public lectures (10%).

Examination topics

There will be no separate exam but individual contributions based on own literature search.

Reading list

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation.
Fred Block and Margaret Somers, The Power of Market Fundamentalism, selected chapters.
Gareth Dale, Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left, recommended.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:12