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.