Karl Polanyi’s critique of the ideal of the self-adjusting market is increasingly invoked to challenge the negative effects of European integration on national social welfare systems. However, these debates have been caught in an unhelpful opposition between European market openness and national social closure. Challenging common interpretations of Polanyi, this article shows that he develops a theory of the relationship between democratic reciprocity and what the article calls “nonmarket modes of economic coordination.” The problem is not reconciling openness with closure but navigating the dilemmas of democratic capitalism. The article then uses this framework to critique the one-sided nature of European law as well as recent calls for a “social Europe.” The article criticizes these efforts, arguing that the fate of social Europe is bound to the economic and political dynamics unleashed by the project of monetary integration.

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