Cultural Trends as Seen in Ngrams: Karl Polanyi with a Hayekian Twist

23 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2013 Last revised: 14 Nov 2013

See all articles by Daniel B. Klein

Daniel B. Klein

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: April 22, 2013


In this very casual paper, I reproduce results from the Google Ngram Viewer. The main thrust is to show that around 1880 governmentalization of society and culture began to set in — a great transformation, as Karl Polanyi called it. But that great transformation came as a reaction to commercial society and liberalism, the first great transformation. I affirm a congruence between the narrative of Polanyi and that of Friedrich Hayek, and side with Hayek’s attitudes about both transformations. The Ngrams shown include liberty, constitutional liberty, faith, eternity, God, social gospel, college professors, psychology, economics, sociology, anthropology, political science, criminology, new liberalism, old liberalism, public school system, Pledge of Allegiance, income tax, government control, run the country, lead the country, lead the nation, national unity, priorities, social justice, equal opportunity, economic inequality, forced to work, living wage, social needs, our society, bundle of rights, property rights, capitalism, right-wing, left-wing, virtue, wisdom, prudence, benevolence, diligence, fortitude, propriety, ought, good conduct, bad conduct, good works, evil, sentiments, impartial, objective, subjective, normative, values, preferences, beliefs, and information.

Keywords: Ngram, governmentalization, liberalism, virtue, liberty, wisdom

JEL Classification: A11, A13, B0

Suggested Citation

Klein, Daniel B., Cultural Trends as Seen in Ngrams: Karl Polanyi with a Hayekian Twist (April 22, 2013). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 13-10, Available at SSRN: or

Daniel B. Klein (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Fairfax, VA 22030
United States


George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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