The assignment to interview three people about their views and interactions with capitalism was really stimulating. Economic history is not my strongest section of history, and while not only reading books and discuss them about the history of capitalism for class, actually talking to people and hearing their thoughts really helped me understand the concept of capitalism as a whole. There were a few patterns that I could find in my interviews, but the most prominent pattern I found with all three of the interviewees was the concept of “freedom of choice.” All three interviewees brought up the idea that capitalism gives people the freedom to spend money how they choose or the freedom to start their own business. There was also discussion about what opportunities were available to those living in a capitalist society, as well as opportunities when it came to a generational standpoint.
When it came to who I chose, I tried to choose people that I knew and knew some about their life. But my favorite person to talk to was Shay, the second interviewee. She is a close friend to who I really relate but we don’t often talk about political or economic topics, so getting to learn more about her through this interview and talking about how capitalism affects her and the way she lives was really interesting. I also really enjoyed the interview as a whole because, in the end, we ended up researching topics relating to capitalism that we wanted to learn more about and having a long discussion about different topics relating to capitalism.
Lou, the third interviewee, is a distant relative and we discussed how he was raised to be cynical about capitalism and to believe that if you worked hard enough you could get what you wanted. In comparison to the other two interviews, the way he talked about his experience with capitalism was deeper. Capitalism and the economy were something that had always been prevalent to him since childhood. As a child, he lived in poverty and had to start working at a young age to help his family, but as an older adult and father, he realized that his goal in life was to not live paycheck to paycheck, and for his kids to not have to work until they were ready. He also saw that as an adult he found luck to be a bigger factor in the success of hard work than he was raised to believe.
The first interviewee, Ian, is a friend of my parents and it was interesting to talk to because he came into the interview with certain beliefs, but the more we talked he realized that capitalism did not have as much of a negative effect on his life as he had thought. Still, his answers seemed to be very straight and forward.
Lou and Shay were both really willing to discuss their thoughts, while Ian was more closed off at the beginning of the interview, and even at the end he still seemed more reserved than the others. While Lou had a stronger understanding of capitalism, Shay fully admitted that he only knew so much, and Ian had many of his thoughts on what capitalism was and how it affected the economy mixed in with his political views. I really enjoyed getting to understand how capitalism is seen (in America) by people today, and how different lifestyles greatly affect their thoughts and opinions.