Theory and Society

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 385–427 | Cite as

“Socialist Accounting” by Karl Polanyi: with preface “Socialism and the embedded economy”

  • Johanna Bockman
  • Ariane Fischer
  • David Woodruff


Ariane Fischer, David Woodruff, and Johanna Bockman have translated Karl Polanyi’s “Sozialistische Rechnungslegung” [“Socialist Accounting”] from 1922. In this article, Polanyi laid out his model of a future socialism, a world in which the economy is subordinated to society. Polanyi described the nature of this society and a kind of socialism that he would remain committed to his entire life. Accompanying the translation is the preface titled “Socialism and the embedded economy.” In the preface, Bockman explains the historical context of the article and its significance to the socialist calculation debate, the social sciences, and socialism more broadly. Based on her reading of the accounting and society that Polanyi offers here, Bockman argues that scholars have too narrowly used Polanyi’s work to support the Keynesian welfare state to the exclusion of other institutions, have too broadly used his work to study social institutions indiscriminately, and have not recognized that his work shares fundamental commonalities with and often unacknowledged distinctions from neoclassical economics.


Embeddedness Keynesianism Neoclassical economics Socialism Socialist calculation debate Welfare state 



For their generous feedback on this project, we would like to thank Michael Burawoy, Kari Polanyi Levitt, Marguerite Mendell, Nancy Hanrahan, Andrew Zimmerman, and the Editors and reviewers of Theory and Society. An earlier version of the preface was presented in the Department of Economics at Université du Québec à Montréal, thanks to Till Düppe. We are grateful for the assistance of Ana Gomez in the Karl Polanyi Archives at Concordia University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Bockman
    • 1
  • Ariane Fischer
    • 2
  • David Woodruff
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Intellectual Heritage ProgramTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of GovernmentLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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