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ABSTRAK: This paper examines the possibilities of using Karl Polanyi’s theory of the ‘Great
Transformation’ for studying contemporary social transformation. It stems from a broader
project that investigates the relationship between international migration and processes of
transformation. Social transformation is understood as an epochal change, a ‘step change’
that is so profound it affects virtually all forms of social interaction, and all individuals and
communities simultaneously. The central concern of this paper is the contemporary
transformation resulting from the advent of neoliberal globalisation. This paper takes Karl
Polanyi’s theory of the ‘Great Transformation’ as the analytical point of departure. It
highlights key concepts in Polanyi’s theory of the ‘Great Transformation’ and surveys
appropriations of Polanyi’s ideas in contemporary theorising about globalisation, as a first
step towards creating a general framework for recasting Polanyi’s theory of social
transformation for the current epoch.
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