Chapter 3: Polanyi and social economy
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Substantivism stemmed from the writings of Hungarian lawyer-turned-historian Karl Polanyi, who argued that capitalism is a historically unique kind of economy that is disembedded from the social matrix. By implication, the socially embedded pre-capitalist economies studied by anthropologists, historians and classicists cannot be understood using the formal economics developed to analyze capitalist economies. Rather, new tools for analysing their 'substantive' economies must be employed. Substantivism was championed in economic anthropology by economist-turned-anthropologist George Dalton and became the reigning paradigm in the subfield during the 1960s. Formalism arose in opposition, arguing that capitalist and pre-capitalist economies differ in degree, not in kind, and thus can all be analysed using the tools of microeconomics. Formalism largely displaced substantivism during the 1970s and 1980s as anthropologists increasingly focused on the economic integration of the world's peasant sectors into their national and regional economies.

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