"Unemployment and money. The principles involved".
A diagrammatic sound film by Michael Polanyi (1940)

Page maintained by
Eduardo Beira
(Senior Fellow, UNESCO Chair Life & Land, CIBIO-inBIO, University of Porto, Portugal)

Last update: november 2019

Polanyi's 1940 film, "Unemployment and money. The principles involved" was shown at the Polanyi Society’s June 2012 Conference (Loyola University, Chicago) The film was introduced by Eduardo Beira and followed by comments from Martin Moleski and Mary Jo Nye. Several decades after its creation, it is now possible to view Polanyi’s film in a digital format. Many thanks to both the Special Collections Research Center, of the Joseph Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago (where the archival papers of Michael Polanyi are housed) and to John Polanyi (literary executor for Michael Polanyi) for their kind cooperation with this scholarly project aimed at making Polanyi’s film (plus other resources on the making of the film) widely available.

Many thanks also to Phil Mullins for his kind assistance and cooperation in the organization and editing of these resources.

See the film (40 minutes):

Available subtitles: English, Portuguese, Hungarian, Spanish and French.

English and Portuguese subtitles organized by E. Beira;
Hungarian subtitles by Biró Gabor.; Spanish subtitles by Marta Felis-Rota.
French subtitles by Eduardo Beira, Leonor Fernandes and Agnés Festré

To view the film with subtitles: select language in the settings of the film. CC alows subtitles on and off.
More instructions:
english, portuguese, hungarian

1. General information about this film:

  • Beira, E., Rediscovering the economic film by Michael Polanyi, WP129 (2013) (pdf)

  • Beira, E., Unemployment and money. The principles involved: A film by Michael Polanyi (1940), Loyola University of Chicago, Polanyi Society 2012 Conference (slides from conference presentation)

2. Additional resources:

  • A transcript of the soundtrack of the film: Beira. E., Unemployment and money (Polanyi, 1940): HANDBOOK and audio commentaries, WP121b (2015) (pdf); previous version: WP121 (2012) (pdf);

    • Translation, Portuguese language: Beira, E., "Desemprego e dinheiro" (Polanyi, 1940): handbook e subtítulos para o filme, em português, WP130 (2015 (pdf);

    • Hungarian language: translation of audio commentaries and subtitles: Biró, G.,"Munkanélküliség és pénz" (Polányi, 1940): a hanganyag kivonata és a film felirata, WP133 (2015) (pdf)

    • Spanish language: translation of audio commentaries and subtitles: Felix-Rota, M.,Spanish Translation and Context to the Film ‘Unemployment and Money: The Principles Involved’ by Michael Polanyi, WP135 (2016) (pdf)

    • French language: translation of audio commentaries and subtitles: Beira, E., M.L. Fernandes and Agnés Festré, "Subtitles en fraçais pour le film ‘Unemployment and Money: The Principles Involved’ par Michael Polanyi (1940)", WP139 (2017) (pdf)

  • the team behind the film: Beira, E., The credits for "Unemployment and money", the economic film by M. Polanyi (1940), WP125 (2012) (pdf). This working paper includes Polanyi’s unpublished 1940 note A Statement by Professor M. Polanyi on the main facts in the genesis of the Economic Film

  • transcripts and discussion of two early unpublished Polanyi lectures which suggest the origin of the film:

    • Beira, E., Michael Polanyi (1936): Visual presentation of social matters, WP123 (2012) (pdf). See also

      • Beira, E., ""Visual presentation of social matters" as a foundational text of Michael Polanyi", Tradition and discovery. The Polanyi Society Periodical, XLI (nº2) (2014) 6-12 (here)

      • Polanyi, M., "Visual presentation of social matters", Tradition and discovery. The Polanyi Society Periodical, XLI (nº2) (2014) 13-24 (here)

      • Mullins, P., "Comments on Polanyi's "Visual presentation of social matters"", Tradition and discovery. The Polanyi Society Periodical, XLI (nº2) (2014) 26-35 (here)

    • Beira, E., Michael Polanyi (1937): On popular education on economics, WP124 (2012) (pdf). See also

      • Beira, E., ""On Popular Education in Economics”: another foundational text of Michael Polanyi thought", Tradition and discovery. The Polanyi Society Periodical, XLI I (nº3) (2016) 8-24 (here)

      • Polanyi, M., "On Popular Education in Economics", Tradition and discovery. The Polanyi Society Periodical, XLII (nº3) (2016) 25-34 (here)

      • McCants, A., "Measuring prosperity and preserving freedom: an economics education with Michael Polanyi", Tradition and discovery. The Polanyi Society Periodical, XLII (nº3) (2016) 34-41 (here)

  • Information about the first released version of the film, Polanyi’s paper published in The Transactions of the Manchester Statistical Society (1938): Beira, E., Michael Polanyi (1938): "An outline of the working of money. Shown by a diagrammatic film", WP 127 (2012) (pdf)

  • transcripts of the first storyboards and script for the film: Beira, E., Booms, slumps and depressions: an early storyboard and script for the economic film by Michael Polanyi, WP122 (2012) (pdf)

  • transcript of news published about the evolution of the film and other subjects: Beira, E., Michael Polanyi in the press: The Manchester Guardian (1928-1939), WP 120b (2017) (pdf).

  • transcript of press reviews about the film: Beira, E., Reviews of the "economic film" (Polanyi, 1938, 1940), WP131 (2015) (pdf)

  • transcripts of unpublished letters related to the film: Beira, E., Correspondence about the economic film by Michael Polanyi in the Regenstein Library Polanyi Collection, WP126 (2012) (updated 2015) (pdf)

  • other documents related to the film, by Michael Polanyi:

    • Beira, E., Three unpublished texts about The Economic Film, WP128 (2013) (updated 2015) (pdf). Texts included are Notes on a film (1935), Suggestions for a new research section (1937) and Money in war and peace. Project for a film (1943)

    • Beira E., Three other unpublished texts about The Economic Film, WP132 (2015) (pdf) . Texts included are: Speech to Senate (1937), Memorandum on economic films (1939), Economics taught by film. New notation for new ideas (1940)

  • Polanyi’s technical paper about the final release of the film: Polanyi, M., "Economics by motion symbols", The Review of Economic Studies, 8 (1940) 1-19 (JSTOR)

Access to each working paper listed above is conditional. If you wish to have access to any of the files for non-commercial personal and/or academic purposes, you can access the paper by clicking on the link and initiating the request with the Google Drive message ("Request access"). Later you will receive e-mail with instructions about how to gain access. Corrections and comments are welcomed (ebeira@gmail.com).