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Reading the story of law and embeddedness through a community lens: A Polanyi-meets-Cotterrell economic sociology of law?

Perry-Kessaris, Amanda (2011) 'Reading the story of law and embeddedness through a community lens: A Polanyi-meets-Cotterrell economic sociology of law?' Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 62 (3). pp. 401-413.

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Abstract

In this article I propose that the role of law in Karl Polanyi’s concept of the “always embedded economy”1 can be enriched by the application of the “lens of community”2developed by Roger Cotterrell.3I begin with Polanyi’s suggestion that economic action and interaction are always “embedded” in wider social life. Reading through the lens of community, we can be more specific: any actor is at once engaged, to different degrees (from fleeting to stable), in multiple types (whether focusing on instrumental, traditional, affective and/or belief-based action) of social life. I then explore a second, implicit, cornerstone of Polanyi’s argument: that analytical and normative approaches to economy may become disembedded from wider social life. Reading through the lens of community we can again be more specific: in the transformation to a market society, the analytical and normative approaches that are central to economic actions and interactions are confused with, and privileged over, those that are central to non-economic actions and interactions. This confusion and privileging can have what we might call a performative effect on action and interaction. Finally, I explore Polanyi’s story of law as a facilitator both of disembedding movements and of re-embedding counter- movements. The application of a law-and-community lens suggests some additional details of that storyline and that there are additional plotlines to be pursued. The practical potential of this Polanyi-meets-Cotterrell economic sociology of law is briefly illustrated with references to two twenty-first-century cautionary tales: the World Bank’s investment climate programme and the 2008 financial crisis.

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > School of Law
ISSN: 00293105
Depositing User: Amanda Perry-Kessaris
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 09:57
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/13088

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