chapter  3
25 Pages

The Competition among Market Conceptions

The concept of the market is the prime explanatory economic concept, but reference to the market is also often advanced despite its alleged moral and political neutrality, and not only in political contexts, with great polemic urgency and excitement. One of the most widely recognized historical studies of the origins and the nature of the modern market is Karl Polanyi's 'The Great Transformation'. Polanyi indicates that the emerging ethos of the market system was by no means impervious to moral considerations. This chapter describes the neoclassical view of market relations among consumers and producers, which despite frequent criticism has remained dominant among economists. The neoclassical description refers to a particular style of thought, a calculating, rational human being, even though that creature may only be largely fictional, existing only in economic models. The economic world becomes a reflection of the discourse of political economy, and the theoretical language surfaces as the language of economic practice.