Political Science

Write a response (based upon the required readings for the course and upon lectures and class discussion but using primarily your own words) to each of the following questions. Each response should be about 250-350 words (so no more than about 2000 words in all). Your completed exams should be submitted in hard copy no later than Thursday, February 14 in class. The exam will count for 15% of your grade for the course.

  1. What does Robert Biel mean when he claims, “under capitalism, development is uneven”? What, according, to Biel does this unevenness enable us to understand about the development of capitalism on a global scale?
  2. On what grounds does Polanyi contest Adam Smith’s assumption of a human propensity to “truck, barter and exchange”? How do the principles of reciprocity, redistribution and house-holding enter into Polanyi’s argument?
  3. What evidence does Polanyi invoke to support his claim that the self-regulating market does not evolve naturally from local markets? How does the notion that markets are embedded in society enter into Polanyi’s explanation of the emergence of the self-regulating market?
  4. What characteristics of each of a) land, b) labour, and c) money does Polanyi have in mind in in characterizing them as “fictitious commodities”? What role, if any, does this characterization play in his critique of the self-regulating market?
  5. What was the Speenhamland system? What role, according to Polanyi, did it play in the emergence and character of nineteenth-century liberal political economy?
  6. To what extent, according to Polanyi, was the escalating tension between the logic of the self-regulating market and the self-protective reaction to it of society fought out politically as a struggle of social classes?
  7. According to Michael Hudson, the repayment of debts incurred in fighting the First World War posed what dilemma for the European countries? How, according to Hudson, did “US government finance capital” act differently than private finance capital and how did it thereby exacerbate the dilemma of European countries?

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