Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production (such as land, factories, and businesses) are privately owned and used to generate profits.
Marx and Capitalism
According to Marxist Theory, capitalism is based on the relationships between different classes of people, which are determined by their ownership of capital.
In a capitalist economy, the owners of capital (the bourgeoisie) exploit the workers (the proletariat) by paying them only enough to cover their basic needs. The surplus value generated by the workers’ labour is appropriated by the capitalists as profit.
Weber and Capitalism
Max Weber, a German sociologist, argued that capitalism is not just an economic system, it is also a way of life.
He believed that the Protestant work ethic was a key factor in the development of capitalism. Protestants believed that hard work was a virtue and that it was their duty to God to work diligently. This attitude encouraged people to save money and invest it in businesses, which led to the development of a capitalist economy.
The capitalist mode of production has been the dominant economic system in the world since the 18th century. It has generated significant economic growth and innovation, and contemporary anthropologists have noted that it has become increasingly important in shaping social, political, and economic life around the world.
Capitalism is characterized by competition, which leads to the accumulation of capital in the hands of a few people. This concentration of wealth results in inequality and social conflict.
The government usually does not intervene in the economy, except to provide infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, or to enforce laws that protect private property rights.
Pros and Cons of Capitalism
Capitalism has a number of advantages, such as encouraging innovation and efficiency through competition. It also allows people to become wealthy, which can create a strong middle class.
However, capitalism also has a number of disadvantages, such as causing income inequality and environmental damage. If left unchecked, it can cause harm to the environment and lead to economic crises.
A number of different economic systems have been developed in response to the problems associated with capitalism. These include socialism, communism, and mixed economies.
Anthropologists have studied the effects of capitalism on social life, investigating how it has changed family relationships, gender roles, and cultural values. They have also looked at the way capitalism has spread around the world, and how it has transformed local economies and societies.
Free Market – An economic system in which the prices of goods and services are determined by the forces of supply and demand, without government intervention.
Command Economy – An economic system in which the government centrally plans and controls the economy.
Mixed Economy – An economic system that combines elements of both capitalism and socialism.
Laissez-Faire – A policy of non-interference or hands-off, allowing people to do as they please.
Income Inequality – The gap between the rich and the poor.
Environmental Damage – Pollution or other environmental damage caused by economic activity.
Glossary Terms starting with C
- Capital – The Physical or Financial Resources required for Production
- Capitalism – An Economic System in which the Means of Production are Privately Owned
- Cargo Cult – Religious Movements claiming to obtain material goods (cargo) for indigenous people
- Cash Crops – Crops grown for Sale
- Caste – Social Groups Ranked Hierarchically by Birth, Marriage or Occupation
- Caudillismo – A Form of Dictatorship commonly associated with Latin America
- City, Anthropology of the – The Study of Urban Spaces and Culture
- Class Consciousness – When a Class recognises its Common Interests
- Cline – The Study of the Gradual Change in a Population over Time
- Cognatic Kinship – Tracing Descent through both the Maternal and Paternal line
- Cognitive Anthropology – The Study of How Culture impacts Human Cognition
- Colonialism – Acquiring and Maintaining Control over another Country or Territory
- Commensality – The Social Practice of Eating Together
- Concubinage – A Formalised Sexual Relationship between a Man and Women which is not equal to Marriage
- Consanguinity – The State of being related to someone by descent from a common ancestor
- Conscience Collective – The Shared Beliefs and Values of a Group or Society
- Conspicuous Consumption – Spending Money on Luxury Goods to Display Wealth and Status
- Contagious Magic – Items that have been in contact remain connected
- Creole Language – An Amalgam of the Colonial Language and Indigenous Language
- Cultural Baseline – The State of a Culture Before it Comes into Contact with Another Culture
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