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.

“does not impact everyone in an equal way”


JT is a 54- year old white male who works in the medical field in Nuclear Medicine. JT noted that he had a lower middle-class class upbringing but now is upper middle-class. His parents worked in retail and were not college educated, and he said that he had to work very hard to go to college. He received his degree and originally worked in a hospital setting but started working in a private practice setting at his current job 20 years ago. JT noted that his political alignment is more Moderate then anything else.

I decided that I wanted to interview JT because I wanted to hear the perspective of someone who had more life and career experience than the last two people that I interviewed. The last two people that I interviewed were both in their 20s, with one being towards the end of college and one being a couple years post-grad, and I wanted to hear from someone who was older and would thus probably have different views and opinions on Capitalism.While I had a feeling that the first two people that I interviewed would possibly not agree on many things due to their political beliefs and I had a general idea of what they would think about many of the questions, I went into this interview not knowing at all what JT would think about Capitalism or many of these questions. I was very interested in asking him these questions because this was never a conversation that we have had before, and I knew that JT was not very familiar with the history of Capitalism or economics. 

How do you define Capitalism?

When asked to define the term Capitalism JT said that the term was hard to define off the top of his head but that he thinks it is an economic system where companies are owned by private companies instead of by the government where the private companies are competing to make the most money and create the most products. JT noted that while this is a term that is spoken about a lot it is not something that he has thought about in depth in terms of what it really means definition wise. Furthermore noting, that it is a concept he is broadly familiar with but not very confident in speaking about in depth

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

JT thinks that Capitalism plays a significant role in both his life and everyone’s lives. He discussed how people are impacted differently under Capitalism due to their economic status and how much work (and luck) they are able to put into building themselves or a company, as well as their role as an employee. JT also discussed how his interactions with Capitalism have changed since when he was young under his parents’ “stretched” financial support and while he was young supporting himself in college and through his young adulthood, to now as a middle aged man decades post college and established into his career. This brought up a chat about how people who are financially stable or even better yet, well off, are able to live much more comfortably in a Capitalistic society than someone who is in a rough spot financially and does not have the means to support themselves. He elaborated saying that if you do not have the means to live in a Capitalistic society, then Capitalism is not going to help you like it is able to help and build those who do have the means to live within the society comfortably, noting that unfortunately many people can never get ahead and are stuck in a cycle. JT also brought up in response to this question how he has seen many people work very hard and go from basically nothing to successful. He gave the example of a boss who was able to build his multimillion dollar company with lots of hard work even though he went into his adulthood in poverty and had no familial or financial support. JT did emphasize that this, however, is not physically possible for everyone because not everyone is able to get that lucky even if they put years of hard work and effort in. 

How do you think Capitalism interacts with the media?

When asked this question, JT explained that he thinks Capitalism interacts with media in a lot of ways but the main way that he sees is through brand advertisements and product placements. He gave the example of how when he is watching movies he often sees specific brands of items being integrated into the background of the scene, noting that while usually a bottle of ketchup will just say ketchup but if the heinz ketchup brand wanted to advertise their product they will pay to have the heinz bottle in the movie. JT elaborated more about advertisements discussing how social media and the internet has really expanded how much advertising there is and how effective it is. He shared how advertising has changed from being focused on TV and radio (and even door to door salesmen) to being mainly focused to social media and the internet. JT also brought up how he has noticed that the companies are very intentional with the advertisements that they create and when they air them on the TV, radio, and online because they know who their customer base is and what they usually watch; noting that he can even remember women’s hair product advertisements always being played during the soap operas his mom watched but never during sports games that his dad where the advertisements were mainly male oriented. 

What are some negative aspects of Capitalism?

When asked what the negative aspects of Capitalism were JT said that the main one he could think of was that not everyone is treated fairly under the system, and that while the wealthy are able to really succeed, more often than not those who are facing poverty are put in a positon where they are constantly struggling and not able to come out of that cycle of struggle.

What are some positive aspects of Capitalism?

JT said that while there are negatives to Capitalism there are also many positive things to it. The main two being the freedom of being able to grow and own your own business and products without a ton of government intervention and the vast availability of products to purchase since the companies are competing for people to buy the “best” product.

How do you think your parents viewed capitalism in comparison to you?

JT said that he is not really sure about how his parents viewed Capitalism because that was never a conversation that he had with them. He noted that he or his siblings never talked to his parents about money but that growing up money was very tight and it felt obvious to him that they were living paycheck to paycheck because they only ever had just the pure necessities and were never able to do much. JT noted that because of this his parents would say that they were never able to get ahead. He believes that they probably had a difficult relationship with Capitalism and money as a whole.

How has Capitalism changed throughout your life?

When asked this question, JT said that the biggest change he has noticed is how much more products and companies are pushed onto consumers compared to while he was growing up. He discussed how social media and the internet has made products much more accessible and more advertised, especially since in the past when someone wanted to buy something they would either have to buy it in store or through a shopping catalog.


Going into this interview I really did not know what to expect for many of JT’s answers because he is often very private about sharing many of his opinions, and before this interview I did not even know how he aligned politically because it was just never a discussion that we had together. This made this interview the most exciting out of the total three that I conducted because with CA and AL I had a general idea of what I thought they would say going into the interview and I had a feeling their opinions might differ in comparison to each other but I had no ideas on what JT would think. I found it interesting to hear about how much he has noticed social media and the internet has changed and evolved Capitalism (mainly advertisements), and how it was very different when he was young. Unlike CA and AL, JT grew up without the internet and social media so advertisements and companies interacted while he was a child and in his young adulthood were experienced in a very different way then they have been the past 20- 25 years. 

Overall, I do believe that many of JT’s opinions on Capitalism are in many ways rooted in his upbringing that was tight financially and in the amount of effort he felt like he had to put into making it to college and building a more financially secure and successful life for himself then his parents ever got to experience. While he does believe in the importance of hardwork in building a good life he also emphasized how difficult this can be for people and how often it is not as simple as just working hard because many people are stuck in a cycle. JT, along with my other interviewees, also noted the system of Capitalism impacts those of lower economic status in a way that makes it especially hard for them. Going forth, I am interested in if this is a flaw  that most people find in Capitalism or if my three interviewees just happened to all believe this.

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.