In this part, it is argued that the evolution of capitalism was accompanied by fundamental changes in the temporal orientations of actors; specifically, by an altered understanding of the future. This change in temporal orientations was both a cause and effect of capitalist transformations. Traditional societies generally viewed the future as part of a circular repetition of events whose occurrence was often cognitively represented through myths.


Though these societies had trade relations and markets, they did not have a self-expanding market sphere (Polanyi [1944] 1957). By contrast, the temporal dispositions of capitalism portray the future as open, containing opportunities to be seized and risks to be calculated. Capitalism is characterized by “a belief in a future rather than a resignation to, or an investment in the present. The future, rather than the past, is this regime’s distinctive temporal orientation” (Moreira and Palladino 2005: 69).


Indeed, capitalism is an economic system in which the present is assessed principally through the lens of the future, which is itself considered using imaginaries of future states in order to anticipate as yet unrealized profit and loss. If modern capitalism “embeds itself into the future” (Giddens 1999: 2), it is necessary to analyze this temporal orientation and the corresponding dispositions of actors in order to lay the micro-foundations required to understand capitalist dynamics.