Polanyi in space
in Karl Polanyi and twenty-first-century capitalism
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The chapter addresses the potential of Karl Polanyi’s contribution as a spatial theorist, or as an economic geographer in all but name. Although Polanyi did not identify as a spatial or geographical theorist as such, his work is rich with spatial insights and implications, notably as one of the original analysts of economic diversity. The chapter begins by contextualising Polanyi’s work in relation to the shifting locales and vantage points that shaped its production. It then turns to the question of the potential of Polanyi’s research programme (incomplete as it understandably was) for the conceptualisation and exploration of economic geographies. The goal here is to sketch some of the ways in which neoPolanyian approaches can be put to work in the service of geographically sensitive modes of economic inquiry, including those attuned to the ongoing diversity of economic formations and development trajectories, contemporary engagements with uneven spatial development, and the evaluation of (localised) economic experimentation. Polanyi’s programmatic project of ‘comparative economics’ was never completed during his own lifetime. There is much to be gained from resuming this project.


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