Fred Block

Research Professor in the Department of Sociology

University of California at Davis

For the last six years, Fred Block has been researching the activities of the U.S. government in support of the commercialization of new technologies. In a series of papers, he has documented that these efforts are far more widespread and more successful than most analysts have recognized. The programs are “hidden” because they are rarely discussed by journalists or academics, they run counter to the prevailing “free market” ideas, and they operate in a decentralized fashion that makes it difficult to track their impact. With a group of collaborators, I have completed an edited book on these programs called State of Innovation: The U.S. Government's Role in Technology Development, edited with Matthew R. Keller, and published by Paradigm Publishers.

In collaboration with Margaret Somers, Block is in the process of preparing a volume to be published by Harvard University Press on the social and economic theory of Karl Polanyi, who is increasingly recognized as one of the major social scientists of the 20th century. Polanyi is particularly important for understanding the economic crisis that began in 2007 because of the originality and power of his analysis and critique of the ideology of the free market that has dominated U.S. politics for the last thirty years.