Final Reflection

I think this project has been a very good educational study of what individuals think of capitalism. Over the semester, we discussed what capitalism is and what scholars have thought about it throughout history. Taking the definition of capitalism, breaking it down, and analyzing it has made it clear how it has changed throughout history. I think it was important to take others, scholars or not, opinions on what capitalism is and how it has affected them. Going into the interviews I did not have an idea how people would respond to the questions. I was not sure if these individuals knew capitalism or not. It was a surprise when all the women had similar definitions. I think if I was to do this project again I would have included a larger variety of people to get opinions. However, in one aspect it was a good idea because I interviewed women around the same age who had similar experiences with capitalism.

My first interview was with a woman who is in her mid-twenties and pursuing a job in medical career. Her understanding of capitalism was a basic definition, she has not had an education or a full understanding of what it is. She tried her best to define it and decipher how it applied to her life. Though, one of the points she did make stood out. As she has a future in medicine, she believed the struggles regarding the costs of medicine are ridiculous. It is not fair for those who can’t afford or do not have insurance to become victims to dept because medicine has become too expensive.

In the second interview, I interviewed another female college student. Like the first, she did not have an in-depth knowledge of what capitalism was besides a textbook definition. For most of the interview, she focused on how capitalism was affecting her. As a woman who is going into the field of counseling, she had to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Capitalism has affected her due to the amount of college debt she has due to how expensive college is to get a degree. She believed it was not right to have to pay so much for something that is needed to make it in the world and survive in the economy we live in now. This point is very relevant to many students today, falling into debt just for the required education.

My last interview, was another female college student who wants to go into the education field. Like before, she did not have a background in capitalism and had a hard time defining the term. Her experience of capitalism has been mainly shown tMy last interview was with another female college student who wants to go into the education field. Like before, she did not have a background in capitalism and had a hard time defining the term. Her experience of capitalism has been mainly shown through social media. She made good points on how companies these days can advertise their products on social media and how the algorithm works through the individuals’ likes and interests, she is then more inclined to buy products. Social media is a trap for all ages and companies know how to use the system to their advantage.

I think my findings over the course of the three interviews are similar in the respect that these individuals had only a basic definition of what capitalism was. It is not surprising about the definitions, many younger individuals have not been taught wI think my findings throughout the three interviews are similar in the respect that these individuals had only a basic definition of what capitalism was. It is not surprising about the definitions, many younger individuals have not been taught what capitalism is and how it plays a role in our society unless one was actively participating in capitalism. All three participate in capitalism in different ways, throughout the interview it seemed as though each understood more what capitalism was and how it played a role in their lives. I think recognizing what contributions they played in capitalism and how it has influenced their lives is an important factor in one’s life.

A Gen Z’s Perspective

KF is a college student who goes to UMW, and is pursing an Elementary Ed degree. KF grew up in a middle class household, but is now part of the upper-middle class. Both of her parents are college graduates and now work in the medical field. Both work in the medical field. KF does not have much knowledge of capitalism and what it embodies, but she was willing to try her best to answer questions about capitalism in her life.

The first question I asked KF was, how do you define Capitalism? Her response was, “it is the system where the companies are privately owned rather than the government.” This definition is broad but it is good that she understood the idea and foundation of capitalism. KF is not familiar with the concept of capitalism, she just knows the basic idea which resulted in a dictionary definition idea of capitalism

KF responded to the question of, how do you think Capitalism has effected your life, next. Her response was, “I think capitalism effects everyone’s lives and you can see that in how much products are pushed in social media. I think it especially if you go online, such as Instagram, you can see products being pushed and advertises and that is capitalism as companies are fighting each other to sell their good for supply and demand. ” As a liberal, she pointedly mentioned in the beginning, has influenced her ideas of capitalism. KF on the daily goes on all forms of social media and is bombarded with advertisements that sponsor items and products for consumers to buy. As a younger individual she gets advertisements that are specifically for a targeted audience.  Today, the advertisements one gets on social media are all part of a algorithm that takes what you look at and find products you might be interested in to sway you in buying them. I think it’s interesting that when she was younger she did not have access to these types of advertisements because formats such as Instagram were not around.

KF got a little stuck on the next question, how do you think capitalism has evolved over the years? “I think it has definitely evolved, not specifically in my lifetime but I think it has gotten to the point where it has gotten to produce more and more products. In the past, it would have been more difficult to make goods because they did not have the resources to. It is easier now, it is more competitive and more difficult to thrive in if you are not rich. It has become a lot more intense.” Over KF’s lifetime, more and more platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., have the formats if you do not purchase a subscription you were going to get advertisements. As I mentioned before there is an algorithm that is set up to show your products that you might be interested in. Even a decade or more ago there were not a lot of advertisements on social media sites, it is changed over time because of the accessibility and influence of the Internet all across the world. I think KF makes a good point that for her lifetime it was more difficult for companies to advertise their goods and they would have to add them in different forms of media such as newspapers or catalogs. Nowadays it is much easier and companies have to fight over who gets to share their goods or not.

KF’s response to, what is your role in capitalism, is similar to what I think many college students would agree with. “I think my role is being a consumer because I am not actively in the workforce or actively producing goods. I am a consumer, buying items and goods. I allow advertisements to sway me. When I become a teacher, I think that Capitalism will have a different role. When I am in the workforce, I will have more feelings when I make my own money. Right now, my family supports me financially and when I am out of college my parents will not be. I will probably will have more feelings on the matter. I look at my parents differently now and question why they are so frugal with money but I think once I am on my own I will think like them.” I think many people in today’s society are consumers, mostly the young adults and adults who have to buy goods for themselves. There are lots of individulas who will buy goods that are considered trendy and are changed seasonally based on what is popular. Since KF is a college student, she is not as frugal with her money. That may be because she does not have a job and relies on her family, it seems that she does not have a sense of when not to spend money. When KF gets into her teaching position, and may not have the biggest salary, she is going to think about money differently. KF is currently reliant on her parents for money, once she steps into the real world and realizes money is difficult to earn, I think she will think differently.

Finally, KF’s response to, what are some positive and negative aspects of capitalism, shows her true Gen-Z self. “To start with, positives, I think that we have a lot of goods and there is a lot of competition. You are constantly are going to have new and improved products. There is going to be a variety of goods, which is good because I like shopping. It is also good because it makes the prices competitive, so you don’t have to pay exorbitant prices. It makes more things innovative and exciting as people are coming up with more and more goods. Some negatives, in a capitalistic society people who are economically challenged or are facing economic struggles, I think they are impacted negatively. It is difficult for them to thrive. Our economy is not set up for people who are financially challenged to thrive. It is for people who have a lot of money or are in specific higher-paying jobs. They become stuck in a system of labor which is difficult to get out of.” I agree with KF, products are constantly being changed monthly, it seems, whether it is a style of clothing or new forms of technology. The system where prices are competitive is good because if only one company makes a certain product the prices would be skyrocketed. Overtime, prices have risen as brands have become the new moneymaker. If a company does not have a brand name, they are most likely not going to be pulling in a lot of consumers. Some of the negatives which I think the United States faces is the struggles people deal with in terms of money. Most of the population is lower or middle class and does not have a continual means to support themselves. If a person nowadays does not have a college degree or any sort of associate’s degree, it is very difficult to get into a position where you are in a lot of money unless by chance. Our system needs to change to create more opportunities for people, there are a lot of jobs, but if the pay is not suitable individuals are not gonna thrive in our economy.s degree, it is very difficult to get into a position where you are in a lot of money unless by chance. Our system needs to change to create more opportunities for people, there are a lot of jobs, but if pay is not suitable individuals are not gonna thrive in our economy.

KF’s responses to questions about capitalism have allowed me to gain insight to what a Gen-Z might think about capitalism in their daily lives. It seems as though social media is a big factor when it comes to buying products. Social media is an influence now that in the past was not a huge contributor because social media wasn’t around in the 1900s. The platforms that are around today have it not only influenced Gen-Z but other generations as well because social media has captured a worldwide audience. I think this interview has been interesting to understand why capitalism has grown in a society. One statement that she made regarding capitalism changing over her lifetime, we are around the same age and social media has changed drastically within 20 or so years and products change more now than they did in the past. Capitalism is forever changing in all forms in today’s society.

A Future Counselors Perspective

MF is a college student from Liberty University. She is a student pursuing a masters in counseling and has a BS in psychology. She does not have a lot of experience in the realm of capitalism or political ideology, but is very familiar with education and how capitalism effects higher education today.

How do you define capitalism?

“I would define capitalism as a system that has to do with private companies and individuals who have complete control over everything. I think many benefit from this political system especially those who have money and have successful endeavors.”

What role do you see capitalism playing in your daily life?

“As a college student I see how capitalism plays a role in my life through the student dept I have to pay after college. Thinking about twenty or thirty years ago college was much more affordable, now the tuition rates and fees I have to pay just to gain an education is mind-blowing. These private institutions are sucking students dry of money, at least those who come from a non wealthy family, and we have to deal with piling student dept just to have education . If a person is going to survive and thrive in todays society you need an degree in higher education, though the pay off is its ridiculously expensive.”

Do you think your community has been affected by capitalism?

“Yes one hundred percent. Following off the previous question, most of my friends and classmates are going through the same issues I have when it comes to student debt. Depending on how much loans or scholarships one gets depends on how much they will pay after school. It is a messy system and we don’t like it. I do not understand why education has to have a money sign on it. If our country wants to help out its citizens, aka the future ones who will be leading and supporting the country, you need to not scare us away with crippling dept.”

Do you find capitalism effective?

“Yes I do, but only in certain areas. I think in other industries capitalism is effective like when it comes to real estate and private businesses but not education.”

MF clearly has strong ideas revolving around education and capitalism. What she states is true, education is  crippling if you are not lucky when it comes to having money. Higher education has been defined  by the amount of money one has and how much they are willing to spend to possibly have a successful enough career to pay off loans. MF’s analysis on capitalism is more specific but it is an important topic that needs to be addressed. Due to most universities and colleges being privately owned, the money one has to put in to go there is sky-high. Especially if you apply to say an Ivy School or one that has a name that pops on the resume, you will need to pay high dollar for it. Higher education is all about branding and pushes individuals to choose whether or not they are willing to be suffering with debt to possibly succeed in our economy. 

A Healthcare Perspective

My first interviewee is KL. She is a 24 year old college graduate who is now in a graduate program pursuing a physicians assistant degree. KL has taken some economic classes during her time in college but has no official background in the area. She graduated with a BS degree in Biology. However, her family is involved in the world of politics and government. She has some insight to capitalism and how it has affected herself and her life. Below are the questions I asked her along with her response.

The first question I asked was, how do you define capitalism? KL’s response was one I somewhat expected as someone who does not have background knowledge of the topic. Her response was, “I’m not exactly sure what capitalism is, but I believe it has to do with goods and products throughout the country being controlled by government or at least the government having some say in trade.” Her definition of capitalism was a basic conception of the idea. KL understand that capitalism is a mainly for individuals or businesses who own private goods in the economy. She was right when she said the government has some say in the matter of goods. It is a public market after all.

The second question was, do you think that capitalism impacts the economy? KL’s response was, “I think capitalism impacts the economy because with its control over such goods, services, and industry in general, there are strengths and weaknesses associated which does have an impact on individuals lives. For example, some products may be more expensive than others and because of that some people cannot afford the best products which is hard in our society considering the economic gap.” KL mentions great points to the impacts capitalism has on the economy. She brings up how many individuals are affected by the decisions made by private owners that are able to shift the prices on goods. It creates an impact that can be difficult to individuals who are not able to keep up with the fluctuation of prices. It is a very relevant concept that needs to have more focus on the matter so more individuals have the ability to actively partake in the economy.

For the third question I asked, how do you see yourself in a capitalist society? KL had an interesting perspective on the topic as an aspiring healthcare worker. “I guess coming from a healthcare standpoint I suppose it can be involved with capitalism. Healthcare is so expensive and often more expensive than people can afford, causing businesses to make a profit on people suffering, illnesses, tests, and/or any medical treatment needed.” KL mentions an issue that is really prominent and debilitating to many people. Healthcare in the United States is incredibly expensive and for those who do not have insurance or poor insurance suffer from the expenses even a checkup can cost. It seems as though healthcare is a business that thrives on taking peoples’ money. It is a perfect example of capitalism in our country as many healthcare centers are “private”.

The next question I asked was, do you find capitalism to be effective? KL responded with “Capitalism probably has positives and negatives towards the society. For businesses or agencies that need money to survive and can get money from society, then that’s a strength. But if there are others exploiting people for money unnecessarily then it leads to the vicious cycle of people getting more and more wealthy and others becoming more and more poor.” KL raised a good point how capitalism can be viewed from all different sides. There are definitely pros and cons to the affect on society. The bad being exploitations from private businesses and the good being businesses are able to survive during times of fluctuation int he economy.

The last question I asked KL was, how do you think your parents view capitalism in comparison to you? Her response was, “I think my parents and I see capitalism relatively the same because there are many faults in our society and capitalism can be seen as one of them. Especially during the pandemic, when the rich just get richer and more and more people are struggling to survive, these are issues that should be worked towards resolving because all the people suffering because of this disparity and abuse of power and money is scary seeing.” I really like KL’s point of view on this matter especially as she is an aspiring healthcare worker. As children of our parents we tend to share similarly on ideas regarding society and other matters as it is a result of our nurture. KL brought up an important point regarding the difficult time we are in now. The COVID-19 pandemic is truly scary. It has taken a toll worldwide with no exception to the United States. In this time of uncertainly people who have been able to thrive are those who have money and don’t need to work to get through this time. Those who are trying to survive are individuals who have to work for money. I agree with KL on the fact that our economy needs to work towards a better system of making sure everyone is helped as they should not be suffering during a time where a virus is currently still uncontrollable.