sosc1140 essay3

Submitted By Xiaoxi-Chen
Words: 1667
Pages: 7

Xiaoxi Chen Chen 1
Professor Cameron Johnston
12 February 2015 The Great Transformation to Market Society We are living in market society, which is so different from previous societies. In market society, the whole of society is a system of self-regulating market (Polanyi 43). In order to make the market society function, people need to think and act in certain ways(Polanyi 68). For example, people in market society think that economic relations are much more important than interpersonal relations (Polanyi 44). Polanyi calls the emergence of market society “the great transformation”. My thesis statement is that the shift to market society is a fundamental transformation because market society is characterized by self-regulation, fictitious commodities, and an emphasis on individuals, which are significantly distinct from previous societies. Some of the changes that take place in workplace under the system of market society will also be presented. Moreover, the ideas that people have about the world in market society will be describing by pointing out the relationship between the “protestant work ethic” and the “spirit of capitalism”. Finally, the reasons why these ideological conditions are crucial to the emergence of market society will be provided. The first characteristic of market society that makes the shift to market society essential is that economy within it is self-regulating and it is called “market economy” (Polanyi 68). Self-regulation indicates that the system of market is able to organize Chen 2 the power in the economic sphere without external force (Polanyi 43). In other words, it is the market itself to be responsible for what are produced and how goods are distributed. All the production and distribution of the goods and services are controlled and regulated by market prices and “nothing but market prices” (Polanyi 43). In contrast, the economy within societies based on tradition lies on procedures designed in the past and maintained by shared customs and beliefs which are extremely powerful (Helibroner 8). For a society based on commands, there is always an imposed authority or an economic command. The economic problems are solved according to the commander’s decisions (Helibroner 10). This is the very first time in human beings’ history that economy is run by markets, making the transformation to market society appear to be unprecedented (Polanyi 43). What also characterizes market society is the emergence of the concept of “fictitious commodities”. Fictitious commodities refer to labor, land, and money (Polanyi 72). “fictitious” implies that they are actually not commodities (Polanyi 72). They are turned into commodities for the effective operation of market society (Polanyi 72). In market society, everything is provided as a commodity. As the major elements of industry, labor, land , and money need to be provided for maintaining productivity and they can only be provided when they are on the market for sale (Polanyi 72). Differently, “Under the feudalism and the gild system land and labor formed part of the social organization itself ” (Polanyi 69). Land were crucial for feudal order, status and function of which “were determined by legal and customary Chen 3 rules” (Polanyi 69). Besides, the organization of labor was under the limitations of “custom and rule of the gild and the town” (Polanyi 70). In short, both land and labor were protected from being turned into objects for sale (Polanyi 70). Furthermore, money used to be just a symbol for exchange. These elements that used to be parts of human life have been included into the market mechanism (Polanyi 71). Previously, people interacted with markets some time but now people are actually in the market. The shift to