The humanization of the economy through social innovation

Kemp, R., Strasser, T., Davidson, R., Avelino, F., Pel, B., Dumitru, A., Kunze, I., Backhaus, J., O’Riordan, T., Haxeltine, A. and Weaver, P.

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


    In his book The Great Transformation (1944), Karl Polanyi introduced the concept of a double movement in society. The first movement is towards marketization: the spread of market thinking and market-based forms of allocation throughout society, driven by international trade and naturalist ideas of competition and utilitarianism. The second movement consists of social protection against the negative consequences of that same marketization. This second movement has taken several forms, such as the creation of factory regulations (offering protection against work place hazards and worker exploitation), social security of some sort (state-based poor relief and support for the old and sick), and rise of (nationalistic) fascist parties (promising protection from threats to culture or country).
    In this paper, we argue that Polanyi’s two-movement model is best reformulated as a three-movement model of i) marketization, 2) state-based social protection and 3) the humanization of the economy. The third movement is a countermovement to the first movement and to some elements of the second movement. Like its two cousins, the humanization movement reaches across sectors, and is based on specific organizing principles that shape the characteristics of formal and informal governing institutions. The three movement model helps to make sense of current developments: the rise in social innovation initiatives, based on conviviality and cooperation, against the background of marketization and reform of the welfare state.
    We view this third movement as a process of humanization and re-embedding as the opposite of dis-embedding: the loss of social ties and sense of purpose in individualistic societies. It is not re-embedding in the sense of restoring the past, which in our view, was not a time of happily embedded people. Efforts at or processes of re-embedding can, however, involve the re-discovery or restoration of old organisational forms, which are then recreated in a modern form.
    The paper makes a contribution to the literature on transformation and social innovation. It is based on a dialectic view of the world containing different logics which interact with each other but also have their own vehicles for change in the form of institutions, networks, practices, and narratives of self-legitimation. Empirically the focus is on Western countries and social innovation initiatives that are based on a positive appreciation of social ties (human bonds), the commons, practices of sharing and collaborating with an important role for personal integrity and intrinsic motivations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016
    Event SPRU50: Transforming Innovation - University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom
    Duration: 7 Sept 20169 Sept 2016


    Conference SPRU50
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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