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Polanyi in Brussels: Supranational Institutions and the Transnational Embedding of Markets

  • James A. Caporaso (a1) and Sidney Tarrow (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 19 October 2009

Many have argued that the success of European integration is predicated on reinforcing market structures and some have gone further to state that the creation of a transnational market results in a decoupling of markets from their national political and social frameworks, thus threatening to unravel historical social bargains. Drawing on the work of Karl Polanyi and John Ruggie and using their insights regarding the social embedding of markets, we dissent from this view by examining how the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has handled a key sector of the emerging European market—labor mobility. We argue that rather than disembedding markets, decisions of the ECJ—just as Polanyi and Ruggie would have predicted—activate new social and political arrangements. We find evidence for the development of a new legal and political structure, largely inspired by the Court but also imbricated in European Union legislation, at the regional level.

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