Overall, I greatly enjoyed this assignment throughout the semester. Instead of just reading and posing questions about capitalism and its impact to class members who were learning the same things, we actually got to put in practice what we were learning to those outside of our classroom community. When deciding who I would interview, I chose a variety of people who were different ages, genders, socioeconomic standing, etc. in order to try to get a full view of what people believe capitalism to be. I come in contact with each of these individuals on a regular basis, so I was fairly sure I could understand the basics of what each person would say, but some surprised me more than others. The interview I enjoyed doing the most was the second one; the interviewee intertwined each answer about capitalism in connection to Christian faith which was interesting to hear about. There were also a few themes that I saw that were woven between each of the interviews: all focused at one point on consumerism, all interviewees had general views that capitalism was beneficial to society, and all of the interviewees had benefited themselves from the capitalist system that exists in the United States.
Another theme that was brought up throughout these interviews, whether spoken or unspoken, was politics. As discussed in class, I believed that each of my interviewees aligned capitalism and its ideas to a specific partisan political party and let that be the lens the interview was given through. Prior to this class, I would agree with this mindset, but following the many readings and interviews, I know that there are so many more factors than politics when thinking about capitalism and its ripples.
My first interviewee was very well versed in the world of capitalism, and I would say that she had the best balance of talking about the benefits of capitalism while still acknowledging the downsides of it as well. As an economics major in college and a small-business owner, I think she was trained to notice these things in the everyday, which made her a very interesting person to interview. Her definition of capitalism was textbook, her idea of where she fits into capitalism society was well thought out, and she was also aware of other economic systems that exist. One thing that she was very quick to bring up was consumerism and how she affiliates capitalism and this idea of the free market to the accumulation of stuff. I thought this was interesting because a lot of times when thinking about capitalism, it is about the production of goods, but the consumption is just as important.
My second interview, like I said, was the one that was most interesting to me. This interviewee was definitely less knowledgeable about the capitalistic principles, but still created an exciting and thought provoking interview. The interviewee was a minister, which definitely influenced the way that he sees this capitalistic world. The quote that I think really stood out to me and encompassed what this interview was all about was this: To people of faith, let’s consider how capitalism can be a good thing that we get to be for. There has to be an interconnectedness between faith and business/economics. Is capitalism good… yes; you just have to know what’s in your hand and think justly about it. These views were ones that I had never encountered before, and even as a person of faith, I have never thought about how interconnected beliefs about economic systems and faith could be. Interconnectedness was a common thread among all of these interviews whether it be politics or otherwise. He discussed consumerism as a “symptom” of capitalism as well, which was similar to the first interviewee.
The third interviewee in my opinion had the least knowledge about the capitalist system, and it showed throughout the interview. I felt as if this interviewee knew what he knew because of what he had hear from others or the media, but did not personally have very strong opinions on the topic. In order to elevate capitalism, I feel that he pushed down other forms of economic systems that do have positive sides to them.
All of the interviewees created and wove very different narratives when talking and thinking about capitalism, and one of the most interesting parts to me was that even though each person had the same level of education and were generally close in age, they all had such different views about capitalism based on their life experience. When talking to the second and third interviewees, I felt that they were both trying to make themselves seem smarter and more well versed about capitalism than they actually were. The first interviewee definitely had the best and most knowledgeable thoughts about capitalism. Overall, this process of interviewees helped to widen my own view and opinions on capitalism and I loved being able to put some of the thought provoking questions I’ve learned in class into these interviews.