An alternative notion of “economy”
In the introductory note to the book Trade and Market, Polanyi invites the readers to re-examine the notion of the “economy” since many people think that the only way of organizing the livelihoods of men is the market economy. In his own words:
What is to be done, though, when it appears that some economies have operated on altogether different principles, showing widespread use of money, and far-flung trading activities, yet no evidence of markets or gain made on buying or selling? It is then that we must re-examine our notions of the economy. (Polanyi et al, 1957: xvii).
In order to develop an alternative notion of the “economy”, Polanyi proposed a new theoretical approach to explain the place and role of human beings in social and economic systems. As a result, in his approach, social matters turn out to be anthropological ones and the role of history is highly relevant.