"Instead of demonstrating their inevitability, the history of economic systems reveals the contingency of the market relationships we now take for granted. Although we tend to view the profit motive as universal and rational (think of the benevolent 'invisible hand' of Adam Smith), anthropologists have discovered that it is not traditional to traditional societies. Insofar as it is found among them, it plays a very circumscribed role, viewed warily because of its tendency to disrupt social relations. Most premodern societies make no clear distinction between the economic sphere and the social sphere, with the result that economic roles are subsumed into more general social relationships. Pre-capitalist man 'does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social claims, his social assets. He values material goods only in so far as they serve this end.' But in capitalist society 'instead of economy being embedded in social relations, social relations are embedded in the economic system' (Polanyi)
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