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Eric Wolff and Capitalism

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Eric Wolff and Capitalism


Capitalism is a phenomenon difficult to place historically, politically and socially due to the lack of a universally accepted definition, and that leaves no room for ambiguous interpretations. Some scholars believe, therefore, incorrect to say that capitalism is merely the most natural method of allocating resources within an economic community (for reasons that will be shown later) and is therefore always existed in various forms, from communities from prehistoric to the present day. Those who disagree with this view argue that capitalism is not that the most common way to distribute resources as possible, but is only one option: the debate focuses mainly on the existence or absence of other methods for the distribution of resources (such as the communism or socialism) and that these are applicable in the present economic reality or the past.

Capitalism is a political, social and economic environment in which corporations and wealthy few control the property, including capital assets (land, factories, money, stocks and bonds, bonds). Capitalism differs from previous economic system, the feudalism, for the purchase of labor for wages, and not by the direct labor that was obtained by way of custom, task or duty (close to slavery) in feudalism. It differs from socialism largely by the predominance of private property, in contrast to the social ownership of production elements. In capitalism the price mechanism is used as a supposed sign that allocates resources among different uses. The different forms of capitalism depends on, among others, the degree to which use the price mechanism, the degree of competitive markets and the level of government involvement in the economy.

However, to define capitalism is necessary to define its basic principles, since there is no consensus on its definition. Generally, capitalism is considered an economic system in which private property plays a key role. This is the first of the basic principles of capitalism. However, also included is within these entrepreneurial freedom and choice, self-interest as the dominant motivation, competition, the importance of the price system or market and a reduced role of government. On private property, capitalism requires that resources should be owned by companies and individuals. In this way, individuals are provided with the use, employment and control of the resources they use in their productive activities. Following this, individuals may use the resources as they see fit.


For Wolf, the merit of the world system theory is that it allows one to understand the economic and political conditionality of cultures. Important in the work of Frank and Wallenstein is that they have overcome the fruitless modernization debates through a sophisticated, theoretically oriented presentation, as has capitalism evolved and spread: as a development and spread among intertwined and yet another distinguishable relationships.

Wolf highlights that there are in the world system designed by him seemingly separate companies that are in the course of mutual action and reaction, shaped and reshaped. For Wolf, however, many societies and cultures that are usually considered by anthropologists as static entities, in ...
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