AL is a 21-year old white female who is in her senior year of college, and beginning grad school in the fall. AL noted that she had a lower middle-class upbringing as a child but a more upper middle-class experience once in high school and college. AL also grew up in a military family, and had lived in multiple different states. Her father joined the Navy without a college education and eventually through online schooling earned his master’s degree, and her mother has a high school diploma. AL noted that their political alignment is very liberal which has an impact on many of her feelings about economic systems but that she was not that confident in her ability to discuss capitalism.
I decided to interview AL because I had a feeling that I would get a very different perspective from her than from the last person that I interviewed, which intrigued me. I was also interested to see how informed someone who did not explicitly say they were interested in economics, or the history of Capitalism would be.
How do you define Capitalism?
When asked “How do you define Capitalism?”, she initially seemed to struggle to address the question but then said that it seems like a network of private ownership of companies and capitalizing off of people. AL explicitly notes that she has a negative connotation towards Capitalism although some people might not and that at it’s root is might not be as negative as she looks at it. At the end of answering this question AL says that she can’t really define it because it is complicated to understand fully.
What role do you see Capitalism playing in your daily life?
AL believes that so many things are impacted in her daily life my Capitalism. She discussed how she believes so many people feel entitled to scam and mistreat other people just because of the position that they play in the capitalistic society. AL gives the example of internships and how the company uses that free labor in order to benefit their companies, and how that is only allowed because of how we live in a society that values money above people. This hurts people who are not able to provide free labor because they need to pay bills and don’t have that privilege from pursuing internships and opportunities that they need to advance their career and status. AL emphasizes that capitalism serves the privileged and hurts those who are not privileged and keeps classist cycles going.
Do you believe that Capitalism is inherent to society?
AL does not believe that Capitalism is inherent to society because there are many places that do not have a Capitalistic society but that it is now inherent to American society because America is fundamentally capitalistic in nature.
How do you think Capitalism interacts with the media?
AL noted that Capitalism interacts within the media she consumes a lot differently than in media older generations might consume or people who do not align politically with her would consume. She further discussed how much of the media she consumes is more against capitalism like she is and is humanist in nature. She said that, “My media tends to be swayed towards a people first approach and capitalism does not always do that in the ways I see it should.”. AL also discussed marketing from companies and how this is especially apparent with the beauty industry, saying that “you can see it with the beauty industry they are already marketing anti-ageing products to us and we are only in our 20s. They are trying to capitalize off of our fears of ageing as if that’s the worst thing to happen.”. She further discusses how as a marketing tactic to make money the beauty industry made ageing, a process that is so natural, seem so evil to the point where millions of dollars are spent on those products and companies are competing to make the most money off of those insecurities.
What are some negative aspects of Capitalism?
The main negative aspect that AL noted was that Capitalism is structured to keep people who are not economically advantaged at a low level and it creates a lot of situations for those people as a result. AL also said that it often bothers her how its very company first instead of people first like she believes it should be because the companies should be serving the people. It disappoints her how in our society everything is about making profit for the companies instead of the people that are within the society.
What are some positive aspects of Capitalism?
AL believes that there are some positive aspects of capitalism such as it breeding creativity for better and more effective products and services.
How do you think your parents view capitalism in comparison to you?
AL believes that her parents because of their more conservative views probably like capitalism and see it as beneficial or at least don’t really question it as much as she does. However, she notes that she has never had that specific conversation with them, so she is not fully sure.
I was not necessarily surprised by the responses that AL gave me because we have had discussions about the ethics surrounding our economy and she has told me before how she believes that our economy and society should be more focused on benefiting the consumer (the people) than the companies. I do, however, think that it is very interesting that she found answering some of the questions difficult because she is earning her degree in Business Administration and I had just assumed that capitalism was a topic that they would have discussed at some point in business classes. Her knowledge on capitalism aligns more with what I was familiar with before taking this class and establishing more concrete ideas on Capitalism. I believe that many student’s in college who have not taken extensive economics classes or have a specific interest in economics and learning about Capitalism would also find it difficult to approach the concept of Capitalism.
Overall, AL’s opinions on Capitalism do seem very rooted in her political beliefs and concerns of the ethicality of the system. It was very interesting to compare AL’s responses to the last person I interviewed because going into it I had a feeling that they would be very different interviews because I know that they hold very different political beliefs and beliefs on how money should be allocated. AL was more concerned about the people hurt by capitalism while CA was concerned with how Capitalism expanded opportunities and technological innovations. However, both interviewees mentioned that those with less economic privilege can be hurt within the system of capitalism, and that it benefits those with more economic privileges, showing that even though they might have different core beliefs they both have overlapping opinions.