The essay deals with the importance of the rediscovery of Karl Polanyi's thinking and of his criticism of the "market society" in resuming (rural) development studies and debates. Following an overall presentation of Polanyi's theoretical and analytical framework, we look for using his concepts to interpret the commoditization dynamics of the rural livelihoods and the social forms of labor and production in the rural space, as well as the commoditization of the agri-food systems in the contemporary capitalism. Based on these statements, we reflect about the role of social actors and institutions in the processes of social change at large and of rural development in particular. And, finally, we propose some potentialities of this approach for the rural development studies in Brazil.
Karl Polanyi; Commoditization; Institutions; Social actors; Rural development