Sociology Index


Books on Capitalism, State Capitalism, Spirit of Capitalism, Karaoke Capitalism

Capitalism is an economic system in which capital, that is, goods or wealth used to produce other goods for profit, is owned privately and profit is reinvested to facilitate capital accumulation. The methods of the economic exchange in capitalism are unique.

Unlike capitalism, in a barter system of economic activity a producer may grow a particular produce and barter it for an equivalent value of another produce produced by someone else. In capitalism, a person uses capital to produce goods and then sells those goods for an amount of cash. The cash received in capitalism is greater than the value of the goods produced.

In capitalism, a profit is created, which allows for reinvestment in the capital stock and to support the owner and producers.

Why was the rise of capitalism in Germany and Japan associated not with liberal institutions and democratic politics, but rather with statist controls and authoritarianism?

The histories of German and Japanese capitalism demonstrate that capitalism's structural forms and functional relations evolve by means of different processes with different goals.

Relative autonomy perspective assumes that the state can and does play a limited independent role in the maintenance and stabilization of capitalist society.

John David Rose, quoting capitalism's icon Adam Smith, points out that "Adam Smith's famous 'invisible hand of the market' is just as apt to push present chiefs of industry into fraud as honest productivity." Pressure of competition may force good people to join bad people at the bottom of the moral barrel. It's not really a lack of character. They have no choice. The financial market and stockholders demand it.

The Economic Sociology of Capitalism: Weber and Schumpeter - Richard Swedberg, Cornell University.
Points to a distinct puzzle in the analyses of capitalism found in the works of Weber and Schumpeter, and gives a new introduction to their analysis of capitalism. They wrote voluminously on capitalism, Economy and Society (Weber, 1978c 1922) and Business Cycles (Schumpeter, 1939). From emphasizing the role of various voluntaristic elements, such as the spirit of capitalism and the spirit of entrepreneurship, to stressing the role of institutions, we can discern a distinct development in their thought over time.   Weber and Schumpeter both argue that a vigorous and healthy capitalism requires certain economic and non-economic institutions, in addition to something else. An absence of this 'something else' may lead to capitalist petrification or collapse, according to them.

Schumpeter and Weber on the Institutions of Capitalism - Solving Swedberg's 'Puzzle' 
Geoffrey Ingham, University of Cambridge
In a `new introduction' to their work, Richard Swedberg (2002) argues that Weber and Schumpeter's 'economic sociology of capitalism' contains a 'puzzle'. They believe that a vigorous capitalism requires `something else' in addition to the institutions outlined in their respective ideal types and theories. Dynamic capitalism needs individuals who possess a distinctive 'mentality' or `inner motivation' - which means a 'capitalist or entrepreneurial spirit'. This introduction is consistent with the existing sociological interpretations of Weber and Schumpeter. Both saw that a differentia specifica of capitalism is the production of an elastic supply of credit-money by banks and states, without which entrepreneurial activity could not take place.

John H. Dunning, Reading and Rutgers Universities 
Puts forth the case for responsible global capitalism, and the role of belief systems in advancing or inhibiting economic efficiency and socially acceptable behaviour. Illustrates how the content and effectiveness of three contemporary elements of the global economy, which are, corporate social responsibility (CSR), the achievement of the millennium development goals and the opening up of centrally planned economies to market forces.

The Challenge For Capitalism - Do we want a world in which greed is the dominant driving force of the economic system?
This series is about destructive tendencies within the capitalist economic system and the need to control the system so that it works for us, but not against us. Topics examine economics, the role of business, the role of government regulation, competing against ourselves, the business tendency to create non-competitive arenas and the lack of business and personal responsibility.

The Political Economy of Post-Industrial Capitalism 
George Liagouras, University of the Aegean (Greece) 
The hypothesis is that industrial capitalism is outdated. We are entering a new era of information or ‘post-industrial capitalism’. The term used here is post-industrial capitalism mainly because the notion of information capitalism does not define explicitly what is really new regarding the history of capitalism. Information capitalism can be either post-Fordist (see Fordism), or post-industrial, or even a transition period towards a post-capitalist society. Offers a systematic comparison between the basic features of industrial and post-industrial capitalism. Explores three main contradictions of post-industrial capitalism. The idea is that the future of post-industrial capitalism remains open. It depends on how the contradictions of this new form of capitalism will be resolved.

The varieties of capitalism paradigm: not enough variety? - Matthew Allen
Institute for German Studies, European Research Institute, Birmingham University
Attempts to shed light on some of the unstated assumptions of the varieties of capitalism framework by comparing it with transaction cost economics as well as neoclassical economics. Comparisons show that, within the varieties of capitalism approach, actors' strategic preferences are assumed to be endogenous to the institutional environment in which they operate. Important institutions are assumed to be uniformly spread across firms within a national economy.

Varieties of Capitalism in an Internationalized World - Domestic Institutional Change in European Telecommunications - Mark Thatcher, London School of Economics 
Examines how internationalization affects domestic decisions about the reform of market institutions. Nations maintain different "varieties of capitalism" in the face of economic globalization because of diverse domestic settings. In an internationalized world, powerful forces for change applying across border scan affect decision making within domestic arenas. Argues that when different forms of internationalization are strong and combined, they can overwhelm institutional inertia and the effects of different national settings to result in rapid change and cross-national convergence in market institutions. Different varieties of capitalism may endure only when international pressures are low and/or for limited periods of time.

Varieties of capitalism in the twentieth century - R Dore, W Lazonick and M O'Sullivan
Compares the century's history of the British and American, the two 'pioneers' whose institutions and economic behaviour patterns most closely confirm to, and those of Germany and Japan whose institutions most significantly deviate from, the prescriptions of neo-classical textbooks. All four societies have changed in key respects; finance and corporate control structures were arguably more similar in the 1920s than later. By the end of the post-war golden age, there were signs of convergence on similar forms of managerial capitalism. How far the transition to shareholder capitalism in Britain and America over the last two decades will be duplicated in Germany and Japan.

Class Struggles and the Reinvention of American Capitalism in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century - Victor D. Lippit, University of California
American capitalism has changed dramatically in the last fifty years. In the 1950s, a capital-labor accord with workers in major industries meant receiving benefits in exchange for ceding management broad rights. From 1970 to 2000 struggles between labor and capital intensified, with capital gaining overwhelming strength. Examines the transformation of American capitalism.

There began in 1940 a lively discussion among English Marxists about the origins of the capitalist mode of production, its political system and its culture. From 1946 began a series of debates many of them focussing on the problem of the nature of late feudal society in England and the timing of its transformation. The current of opinion was that which identified the so-called Puritan Revolution as a bourgeois revolution of the same kind as the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century.

Bunco Sharks and the Big Store: Understanding Capitalism Through Gilded Age Fraud and Corruption - Jane G. Haigh
The growth of capitalism in the Gilded Age was marked by the increasing organization and complexity of business and economic systems. The era's emphasis on entrepreneurial capitalism was embraced wholeheartedly by an gamblers, and con men, as they sought to both exploit and subvert the new rules, while using many of the same innovations and structures as the bankers and business owners. Bunco sharks and con men practiced their games nationwide, and formed an extensive network that traded information on the conditions favorable for their operations. Bunco games and "big cons," in particular developed new technologies: specific, narrative structures which worked nearly infallibly to fleece a potential victim, in effect akin to software, and similar to the development of the new financial instruments of banking. I suggest it may have something to teach us about capitalism and especially its relationship to information.

Will Limited Needs Kill Capitalism? Gilles Saint-Paul, Université des Sciences Sociales de Toulouse - Gilles Saint-Paul (2006) "Will Limited Needs Kill Capitalism?," Capitalism and Society: Vol. 1: No. 1, Article 4
Argues that a number of ``unorthodox" analyses of capitalism can be understood from the point of view of orthodox economic theory. The argument is based on the assumptions of monopoly and that utility derived from consuming an individual good is bounded.

Varieties of welfare capitalism - Alexander Hicks and Lane Kenworthy - Emory University, Atlanta, USA 
Despite the influence of Esping-Andersen's categorization of three "worlds" of welfare capitalism, researchers have neglected investigation of his dimensions of welfare state policy and politics. Building on the foundations provided by Esping-Andersen, we explore the identities and consequences of welfare state regime dimensions. "Progressive liberalism", rearranges Esping-Andersen's separate "social democratic" and "liberal" dimensions into two poles of a single dimension. Positive pole is characterized by universal and homogeneous benefits, active labour market policy, government employment and gender-egalitarian family policies. "Traditional conservatism", is similar to but broader than Esping-Andersen's conservative dimension.

The Crisis of German and Japanese Capitalism - Stalled on the Road to the Liberal Market Model? - STEVEN K. VOGEL, University of California, Berkeley 
German and Japanese opinion leaders demand a decisive move toward the liberal market model. Why can't Germany and Japan reform? We must understand how the German and Japanese models of capitalism bind the potential winners from liberal reform, such as competitive manufacturing exporters, to the potential losers, such as workers and protected service industries. Competitive exporters are reluctant to embrace reforms that might undermine valued relationships with workers, business partners and financial institutions. They cannot forge a strong reform coalition because they must work through industry associations and political parties that represent both competitive and protected sectors. Germany and Japan proceed cautiously with reform.

The Legitimation of Capitalism in the Postcommunist Transition Public Opinion about Market Justice, 1991-1996 - James R. Kluegel, David S. Mason and Bernd Wegener - University of Illinois
Examines change in economic justice attitudes in five former communist states using data from opinion surveys conducted in 1991 and 1996. Examines the implications of theory and research concerning the popular legitimation of western capitalism for change in support for ‘market justice’ beliefs and norms among postcommunist publics. In the Czech Republic and eastern Germany, public opinion is moving closer to market justice as found in western capitalism, but socialist justice remains strong or is increasing in the other three countries; in postcommunist countries correlations between support for market justice norms and the perceived fairness of the existing economic order have become stronger over time; private sector employment, and retrospective, current and prospective standard-of-living evaluations each shape market justice beliefs and norms. Theory of the public legitimation of capitalism in the West does apply in postcommunist states. Change in market/socialist justice is a function of both collective and individual level factors.

Coverture and Capitalism - Amy Louise Erickson
The role of gender in the creation of a capitalist economy in England in the early modern period. Capital in this period was both accumulated and transferred by means of marriage and inheritance and the laws governing marriage and inheritance played a role in structuring the economy. Under English law, married women under coverture were even more restricted than in the rest of Europe. Single women enjoyed a position unique in Europe as legal individuals in their own right without any requirement for a male guardian. The draconian nature of coverture necessitated the early development of complex private contracts and financial arrangements establishing a climate in which the concept of legal security for notional concepts of property, the bedrock of capitalism, became commonplace. Without the effect of legal guardianship, England had more people able to move capital purely because that market included the unmarried half of the female population in addition to the male population.

Turning Modes of Production Inside Out - Or, Why Capitalism is a Transformation of Slavery 
David Graeber, Department of Anthropology, Yale University
Marxist theory has largely abandoned the notion of the ‘mode of production’ and has encouraged a trend to abandon much of what was radical about it and naturalize capitalist categories. A notion of a mode of production that recognizes the primacy of human production might show us that capitalism, or at least industrial capitalism, has far more in common with, and is historically more closely linked with, chattel slavery than most of us had ever imagined.

The Problem of Crony Capitalism - Modernity and the Encounter with the Perverse 
Joel S. Kahn, La Trobe University. - Francesco Formosa, School of Social Sciences, La Trobe University 
Reflections on the problem posed by ostensibly perverse phenomena like political patronage, corruption and crony capitalism for modernising narratives. Taking an ethnographic research example from Indonesia, it is argued that the continual attempt to relocate such phenomena to terrains not properly modern precludes the possibility of serious analysis or moral/political assessment of these phenomena.