Keywords:Economization, COVID-19, utilitarianism, neoliberalism, Karl Polanyi, substantivism, coronavirus
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have recognized it as posing not only a public health risk, but also an economic problem. There were, however, several different ways to formulate this economic problem. This essay lays out three prototypical economic formulations of COVID-19, which proliferated during the pandemic’s first six months in the United States and informed policy discussions and interventions: neoclassical economization, macro-economization, and substantive economization. Drawing on Karl Polanyi, I propose that among COVID-19’s potentially transformative effects is a transition away from abstract and analytical economic formulations and toward a more concrete focus on securing sustenance and material livelihood during times of crisis.
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