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Archaic societies, in turn, are predominantly redistributive, although there may be room for some exchange.
One has to keep in mind, however, that the system of self-regulating markets as the dominant form of integration is only to be found in modern societies.
It is, in fact, possible to refer to the “great transformation” to which the concept of embeddedness has been subjected: whereas in Polanyi’s work it is associated with the macro(economic) level and is used as evidence of the exceptional nature of the capitalist market economy – disembedded from society – in NES, it is normally associated with the meso (and even micro) level, on the assumption that all economies – including capitalist economies – are embedded.
I will now summarize some of the main concepts behind it.
In order to fully understand Polanyi’s work and thought, one has to start by analyzing the distinction he makes between the substantive and the formal meaning of economy.