Table of Contents

Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.

Chapter 76: Karl Polanyi (1886–1964)

Peter Kalmbach

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought


Karl Polanyi was born 1886 in Vienna into a Jewish family and grew up in Budapest. As one commentator (Block 2001: xix) noted, the family was “remarkable for its social engagement and intellectual achievements”. He studied philosophy and law at the universities of Budapest and Kolozsvár in Hungary. As a student in Budapest he founded the radical Club Galilei, in which he became acquainted with Georg Lukács, Karl Mannheim and other intellectuals who should gain fame. In 1914 he was involved in the foundation of the Hungarian Radical Party. After the war he supported the Republican government in Hungary, but when this was overthrown and transformed into a Soviet republic in 1919 (which lasted only four months) he fled to Vienna. There he worked from 1924 until 1933 as a journalist, mainly for Der Österreichische Volkswirt (The Austrian Economist), a renowned economic and financial weekly. In his publications during that period he dealt with a whole host of economic problems, inter alia he participated in the socialist accountancy debates with Ludwig von Mises. In 1925 he married Ilona Duczynska, a sympathizer of the Communist Party. The rise of fascist trends in Austria long before its Anschluss to Germany in 1938 caused Polanyi to emigrate in 1933. He moved to London where he made a living from the little money he earned as journalist and lecturer for the Workers’ Educational Association. During that time he began his research for The Great Transformation (TGT) and accepted invitations for lectures in...

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