Adam Smith and Karl Polanyi on the division of labor : a comparison and contrast

Erkul, Abdullah
The concept of the division of labor is comprehensively discussed in Adam Smith’s classic work, The Wealth of Nations (1776), and it holds a key function in his theory of economic development. As a rigorous reader of Smith, Karl Polanyi does not make use of this concept very much in his works; while he conveys Smith’s general understanding throughout The Great Transformation (1944). This calls for a review of the two authors’ use and perception of the concept of the division of labor. As opposed to Smith's economic theory based on the division of labor, Polanyi's substantivist approach to economic phenomena poses a different dynamic of social change based on commodity fiction. For this reason, Polanyi leaves out The Wealth of Nations' key ingredient, division of labor. In retrospect, this thesis work aims to compare and contrast the analytical frameworks of Smith and Polanyi based upon their views on the division of labor and finds affinities in their methodologies and approaches to economic phenomena.


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Citation Formats
A. Erkul, “ Adam Smith and Karl Polanyi on the division of labor : a comparison and contrast,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2013.