My interviewees did not surprise me. Each of them reflected stereotypes that I expected to see going into this project, stereotypes that I think are pretty indicative to how we wrestle with capitalism in our daily society. As a whole, the questions we created as a class do a good job at capturing these stereotypes or misconceptions, especially in terms of understanding the relationship between history and capitalism, and how capitalism evolved from nineteenth-century America into our modern global financial system.
For my third interview, I discussed the nature of capitalism with a peer of mine, BO. A sophomore here at UMW, BO is a female and identifies as African American. I was quite interested to see how BO’s answers would either reinforce or differ from SM’s and SL’s (my first two interviewees) perspective on capitalism. BO identifies as middle class (in terms of her income), and she grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. She was raised by two college educated parents and her parents always emphasized the importance of a college education. She works multiple jobs in order to help pay for her education here at UMW.
For my second interview, I discussed the nature of capitalism with my father, SL. A college-educated 58-year-old white male, I was interested to see how similar SL’s answers would be to SM’s (my first interviewee) perspective on capitalism. SL identifies as lower middle class (in terms of his income), although he grew up relatively poor in Norfolk, VA. He was raised by a single mother, and at a young age, often had to work to help contribute to the family’s survival. He has been working since he was roughly 15 years old, and has a diverse background when it comes to employment, having worked for people who started their own businesses, big corporations and the United States government.
For my first interview, I discussed the nature of capitalism with my roommate, SM. A 22-year-old white male with two college educated parents, I was interested to see how similar SM’s perspective on capitalism would be to my own. SM identifies as relatively wealthy, middle class, and he grew up in a diverse neighborhood in Northern Virginia. His father is wealthy, and according to SM, worked his way up to become a senior administrator in a major bank. His uncle also owns a small business.
When I asked SM to define capitalism, he defined an economic system that provides for “the means to pave your own way and choose what it is you want to do.” He elaborated that capitalism enables people to have the opportunity to do what they want to do in life – to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and pave their way toward economic independence.