Karl Polanyi, the global economic crisis, and social theory: series of lectures by Fred Block (UC Davis)

Academic & Research
Monday, March 18, 2013 - 5:30pm
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Monday, March 18, 2013 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
Open to the Public

Karl Polanyi, the global economic crisis, and social theory: series of lectures by Fred Block

Date and time of the lectures:

March 18, 5:30-7:00 pm, Auditorium

March 19, 5:30-7:00 pm, Auditorium

March 21, 5:30-7:00 pm, Auditorium

In this series of lectures, Fred Block seeks to explain some of the key ideas that Karl Polanyi developed in The Great Transformation.  While it is increasingly common for contemporary social scientists to cherry pick eloquent quotes or specific concepts from Polanyi, these lectures are intended to develop a holistic understanding of Karl Polanyi’s social theory and his political vision.  In the first lecture, Block will show the direct relevance of Polanyi’s analysis for making sense of the Global Financial Crisis and its aftermath of continuing austerity policies.  The second lecture will focus on Polanyi’s social theory by analyzing Polanyi’s relationship to Marx and his heterodox definition of socialism.   The final lecture will explain Polanyi’s critique of parliamentary democracy and will discuss ways to create new forms of democratic governance in the 21st century.  



Fred Block is Research Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Davis. His recent work has focused on documenting the substantial role that the U.S. government plays in technology development across the civilian economy. During the last thirty years while policymakers and pundits were singing the praises of "free markets", the

reality was that the public sector significantly expanded its efforts to move research breakthroughs from the laboratory to the market. His book, State of Innovation: The U.S. Government's Role in Technology Development, co-edited with Matthew R. Keller (Paradigm Publishers) contains a series of case studies that document different dimensions of this recently constructed innovation system. His current research centers on the kinds of financial reforms and new institutions required to supports innovation in this new context of public-private collaboration.  He is currently completing a co-authored book with Margaret Somers that is tentatively entitled, The Political Economy of Freedom:  Karl Polanyi's Critique of Market Society.   His earlier books include The Origins of International Economic Disorder (1977), Postindustrial Possibilities (1990), and The Vampire State (1996).