Psychology and Ideology in Institutional Change - Actual and Postulated Motives

From Karl Polanyi
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First Version

[19/20, 7][1] This paper deals, as the title indicates, with the problem of the interaction of 'psychology' and 'ideology'. In the broader sense, it has been attacked by Hegel, Marx, Pareto, Weber, Durkheim and Mannheim, in the narrower, by a number of other writers. The present paper, is, in effect, an attempt to throw some light on this standing problem of the social and historical sciences, by reducing it to manageable proportions. This is done by restricting inquiry to a circumscribed case of such interaction as we meet it in the institutional field. Accordingly, attention is focused on divergence of actual motives of individual participating in a institution – a psychological factor, from their motives as assumed on the part of the institution in question – an ideological factor. Such a specific investigation may yield the clue to the solution of the wider problem. Apart from the specific results which it may yield, such a line of investigations may offer a clue to the solution of the wider problem.

The argument is mainly concerned with the formal aspects of such an approach. No general theory of institutional change is intended. The application to market-economy is incidental (6 & 8) and is merely meant to serve as an illustration.

This approach to the problem of the relations of psychology and ideology, it is claimed (1) is independent of specific psychological assumptions; (2) may offer an avenue for a theory of social change, which does not rely on the assumption of antecedent changes occurring outside the system; and (3) should therefore facilitate sociological research, theoretical as well as empirical.

1. The Approach

2. Motive and Behaviour

3. Psychology, Ideology, Ideas and Values

4. Tension between actual and postulated motives

5. Institutional determination in regard to behaviour and motive

6. Application to market economy

7. Strain, adjustment and institutional change

8. Application: The shift from economistic to broadly social motivations

9. Conclusion

Text Informations

Date: August 1957-1958.[2]
KPA: 19/20, 7-8 (2 typed p.) + 41/07, 23-36 (14 p., typed draft)

Editor's Notes

  1. As A. Rotstein writes in August 1957, “Terry is working on an article that P. wrote in 1945” [W. Notes XIV] and, in December 1957, “P. (…) is getting something into shape he did ten years ago” [W. Notes XIX]. We can imagine that this fragment found in 19/20, is a trace of this 1945 version. Maybe after he had written “The Role of Strain in Institutional Change”, Polanyi was not satisfied and begun to write it a second time, with a new title, and this fragment would be the first lines of this new version he never finished until 1957, with the help of 'Terry' Hopkins. On March 5, 1958: Abraham Rotstein writes again: “I would like to receive a copy of the Psychology and Ideology manuscript you mentioned last time - (…) The Old Sinner” From Abraham Rotstein (5 March 1958)
  2. See explanation on 41/07. -- Santiago Pinault