Wednesday 7
Towards a Sustainable and Socially Just Transformation: Reflections on Polanyi
John Thompson
› 10:25 - 11:20 (55min)
› Rondelet
Polanyian insights for empowering socio-ecological transformation strategies within market societies
Maja Goepel  1@  
1 : Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy  (WI)  -  Website
Neue Promenade 6, 10178 Berlin -  Allemagne

Humans are writing history, but not under the circumstances of their choice. Political economists like Karl Polanyi provide important structural insights into the path dependencies that humanity today is facing when trying to bend the trend of environmental overexploitation, social inequity and financial turmoil. This paper reviews Polanyi's analysis of how “the stark utopia of a market system” played a key role in both, institutional development of the socio-technological systems as well as economic theory development of the 19th Century.

In the following it highlights how neoclassical economic models running behind most of todays decision-making in governments, business and finance encapsulate this view and which path dependencies this brings to how human wellbeing, nature and money factor in cost-benefit calculations of decision-making processes. The paper concludes with a discussion why trade-offs behind abstract economic equations should be made very explicit in transformation processes aiming at stakeholder empowerment and equitable outcomes and why our growth-driven market societies need this type of processes in order to break out of its unsustainable path dependencies. 



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