Interview Reflection

For my first two interviews I had a general idea of how the interviewees felt about capitalism. The first came from a struggling family and was thousands of dollars in debt and was never really awarded any of the benefits of capitalism despite how much they contributed to society or how hard they tried. The second interviewee was brought up in a very comfortable setting but is struggling to make ends meet. Working minimum wage and stuck in a dead-end job. The last interviewee was the one that truly surprised me for a few reasons. I chose LB because I believed he would provide me with a positive view of capitalism. He grew up in an upper middle class (possibly wealthy) family and has a very comfortable job at home job making a lot of money. However, despite all this he was perhaps the most cynical of the three. Proving the most aggressive takes against capitalism. But it was the other two interviewees that I believed provided the most interesting views of capitalism

All the interviewees were also concerned with the current state of capitalism and how it impacts those less fortunate specifically my first interviewee. She mentioned that capitalism “creates a lot of problems and it has negative impacts on people’s lives, but I don’t see them because I am not around that side of things.” I later reached back out to this interviewee in preparation for this reflection to ask for clarification about this quote. They explained “capitalism, at least what I see in America, only seems to benefit white middle- and upper-class families. They are the ones who see the positives of capitalism. While lower income families and minorities see the negative, they are preyed upon by the upper class as minimum wage workers who help run capitalism without recognition or pay.” Even though this was not something they originally mention (as result of my lack of prodding) I find it important to include in the reflection. There ranking of wealth hierarchy was very much racially based, whites at the top and minority groups were at the bottom. This to me calls back to Cedric Robinsons idea of racial capitalism where the institution of capitalism is dominated by whites who uses minorities as tools in the capitalistic machine.

My second interviewee was mostly concerned with unregulated markets and a “lack of government resources for the less fortunate.” He believed that the current state of capitalism was driven by profit instead of providing help for those who truly needed it. In his opinion capitalism is a system in which the rich get richer while the poor struggle to live and provide for themselves and their families due to the high cost of living. For him the government is lacking in social welfare programs and the programs that do exist do not provide enough resources to survive or provide just enough, but either way the programs do not provide enough to get ahead and allow the individual to become depended on social programs because the government worries that dependence on the government will make people not want to work and lazy. This discourse surrounding dependency on the government reminds me of the criticisms surrounding poor laws and Speenhamland discussed in Karl Polyani’s, The Great Transformation. Also, strangely enough, Charles Brace’s motivation for formulating the CAS. Reviewing this conversation makes me believe there is a fear of dependence on the government in a capitalistic society. A capitalistic system requires people to be independent of the government and depended on the person who signs their pay checks. If the government does not provide relief, then people are forced to work to keep themselves alive.

My three interviewees shared a lot in common, perhaps too much. I must admit my fault in this process. I unconsciously chose a group lacking in diversity. My interviews were all around the same age and none would be consisted minorities in any sense of the word. Nevertheless, I still find their information valuable. The all new very little about capitalism, one of them did not even know it by definition. Also, they knew nothing about history of American capitalism, but they all agreed it was problematic and restrictive independent of each other. It was interesting to see how the three interviewees admitted that capitalism is flawed, but none of them were concerned about themselves. Instead, they worried how the system impacted others, those less fortunate and how the current system impacts them. None of my interviewees tried to defend capitalism, when asked about the positives they all struggled and hesitated. When asked about the negatives they had a lot to say. According to my interviewees the system of capitalism once served a purpose where anyone could succeed, but it has sense lost it purpose.

“It is a Scam”


LB is 24 and lives very comfortable. He is a software engineer for a large company and from what I know is finically independent. LB grew up in a middle-class family and his parents covered the cost of college leaving him with no debts. Also, LB found a job immediately out of college and has only moved up the ladder of success.

How do you define Capitalism?

“I believe capitalism is system in which companies and corporations set their own prices and wages for employees.” When asked it they believe America has historically been a Capitalistic country they responded, “I mean yeah … I think Capitalism is what our country is build off of. I believe it’s always been this way, but I also believe we have become too Capitalistic.” I asked the interviewee to elaborate on this, “There was a point when Capitalism worked in America. Everyone could get a job and afford a house, but now it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to be self-sustainable. I know a lot of people who have degrees in Computer Science or Economics, and they can’t find jobs and have to rely on their parents for financial support.”

How do you think your parents view Capitalism in comparison to you?

“I was just talking with my parents about this the other day. I think they use to admire it. My dad was reminiscing about how cheap everything used to be and there were so many opinions when it came to products, but now he has a much more cynical view. I think he is worried about me and how I am going to be able to afford to live and buy a house. My mother seems to still hold onto this American dream type Capitalism, were anything is possible when you work hard enough.” When asked why they have these two opposing views he answered, “I think it is because my father works health care so he has seen how expensive medicine has become because of greed and maybe even seen how people can’t afford treatment. My mother is an executive director of a company, so he is far removed from the financial burden people experience.”

What do you think are some positive aspects of capitalism? What are negative aspects?

“There are not many positive aspects, but I guess one would be it’s supposed to promote competition and companies strive to be the best and deliver better products than an economic system without capitalism. Negative aspects, and the biggest one for me, is cooperate greed makes everything expensive. I believe a lot of the time prices are inflated for no reason, but to increase profit margins. I think that capitalism is a system which is meant to keep the poor poor and rich rich.” I then asked if they believed its ways been this way, “No, I think it was originally created to just promote competition and make sure there was a product for everyone, but now it is a scam.”

What do you think of other economic systems other than Capitalism?

“I don’t know a whole lot about other economic systems. I know there are a lot of people who like Socialism, but again I don’t know a lot about it other than Bernie is one and it could offer free health care and college. But I also know Capitalism is a system which no longer works on its own and needs so sort of government involvement.”

Do you like Capitalism?

“No. At one point I might have said yes, but now that a few companies own everything it has lost all meaning. There is no more competition anymore and companies no longer need to work to be the best they just put out an expensive good product and a cheaper not so good product and call it a day.” I then asked if their opinion would be different if it was still the same as when their parents were growing up.  “Probably, but its hard to say. I think I might have been indifferent towards it instead of hating it.”


Originally, I interviewed this person because I believed they would give a pro capitalist stance because of the positions they are in and passing comments in the past, but I was wrong the interviewee clearly has a cynical view of Capitalism. Multiple time throughout the interview they would start getting loud while talking about why they did not like Capitalism, but they made it very clear before, during, and after the interview that they do not know much about economics, Capitalism, or other economic systems. However, I think this is particularly interesting because it shows that despite not knowing a better alternative people can still be critical and believe that there is a better way that we have not deployed yet. Also, I found it interesting how they kept comparing capitalism to how it was to how it is now. This is what led me to ask my last question of the interview to see if they just longed for the old days of Capitalism. Finally, he brought up this American dream type Capitalism. This was the first I hear someone mention Capitalism this way, and he made it very clear that this form of Capitalism is not longer achievable for the common people.

It Goes Against the Basic Function of a Society


The interviewee is a 20 year male. He has a Highschool diploma, but is not currently attending college. As of right now he works in customer service. The interviewee grew up in a upper middle class, bordering on wealthy, house hold with both parents present and attentive. He also attended private school all of his life.

How do you define capitalism?

“Capitalism is an economic ideology based around the belief that a free market unimpeded by government regulation would create greater quality and cheaper goods and services for the consumer due to competition.”

Do you believe capitalism is inherent to society?

“Capitalism isn’t inherent to society as it often puts profit and corporate interest before human interests which goes against the basic function of a society which is to provide safety and community to a group of citizens.”

What do you think are some positive aspects of capitalism? What are the negative aspects?

“Some positive aspects of capitalism are the potential for competition to create better goods and promote social mobility. Some negative aspects of capitalism are that unregulated markets allow large companies to outcompete smaller companies and control the markets and a lack of government resources for underprivileged people.”

How do you see people’s views of capitalism being generationally different?

“Many older people view capitalism as a way for the average citizen to amass wealth and create a better life for them and their families, while many of the younger generations feel that capitalism has created a hostile economic environment that keeps the poor down while the rich continue to generate greater and greater wealth.”

Do you like capitalism?

I do not like the current capitalistic system that is employed throughout most of the world as it is driven mainly by profit rather than providing a high quality products and services as well as preventing the less fortunate from accessing the essentials for living or creating an environment where they cannot excel due to the high cost of living produced by this system.


I believe it is appropriate to mention I know the interviewee quite well so his responses did not come as a surprise. In the past he has expressed his distain for the current US economic society we live in, and this is what made me want to interview him. Additionally, I find his takes on capitalism and the current economic state of the US interesting because his up bringing would indicate that he has benefited quite well from capitalism: private school, big house, never having to worry about food. Yet, he strongly despises where our economy stands. When reviewing his answers I noticed he was very concerned with the underprivileged, corporate greed, and the overall well being of the community.

I do have to wonder if these concerns stem from him barely making over minimum wage and working for a large corporation. But I have to remember this individual has always been sensitive and concerned for the well being of “the little guy” (his words). So perhaps his frustration is not a result of working for a corporation, but instead an issue with the ethics of capitalism and how it results in corporations putting profit before the well being of humans. This is where I can draw parallels to my previous interview. The last interviewee was also concerned with the ethics of capitalism, but in a more environmental way. This trend of ethical concerns is something I will continue to be vigilant of in the coming interviews.

I Think it Temporarily Serves a Purpose


The interviewee is a 21 year old student at UMW and is majoring in Psychology. They grew up middle class and were raised primarily by their mother. Furthermore, being a psychology major they are concerned with ethics and that is reflected in the interview.

“How do you define capitalism?” 

“It’s the economic structure where individuals and businesses can make profit off manufacturing or services.” I warned the individual that I was going to be asking them questions about capitalism, and it was later revealed to me they googled this definition before the interview. 

“Where do you see capitalism in action?”

“Everywhere. . . where do you not see capitalism in action? Everything we purchase and use. These things are not just given to you. You need to purchase things from big companies.” I then asked if small businesses contribute to capitalism and the interviewee answered with a hesitant “I think so right?”

“How do you think your parents view capitalism in comparison to you?”

“In this generation there has been a trend towards sustainability. For me and my family I don’t see the bad impacts of capitalism, but people who live near industry do. So there should be more consideration for them. Social media plays a part in our “resistance” towards capitalism and social media has heighted our awareness towards the bad aspects of capitalism. Something our parents’ generation did not have.”

“What is your role in capitalism?” 

“I definitely help it continue by participating in the economy. Like buying things from Amazon, Target, Walmart and other big businesses, and it makes me feel guilty. However, I don’t feel as if I am participating towards the negative parts of capitalism when I buy from small businesses. Ones that are sustainable and equitable. However, I can’t do that as frequently because it’s expensive and I feel bad about that.”

“Do you find capitalism to be effective?”

“I think that it temporarily serves a purpose but also creates a lot of problems and it has negative impacts on people’s lives, but I don’t see them because I am not around that side of things. However, I do not believe it to be a sustainable system or an equitable one.”


The interviewee has very limited knowledge about what capitalism is. They even went as far as prepping for the interview by researching terms. However, once we moved away from the “what is capitalism” questions I started to notice the individual was very concerned with the environmental and sustainability aspects of capitalism. Although, the individual did also make it clear that they never have been “harmed” or personally experienced the negative aspects of capitalism, yet they were still bothered by its detrimental effects on people of lower socioeconomic status and people who have lost land/homes due to capitalism’s industrial aspects. Finally, I want to reiterate the interviewees point about social media. Social media has shined a light on the dark parts of not just capitalism, but society in general. Later after the interview the individual elaborated a little more on this point and explained that “social media has given anyone a voice, and it’s made it harder for corporations to hide their misdoings.” This is something that is particularly unique to our generation and it poses the question has social media played a part in the evolution of capitalism?