What is Capitalism?

The New York Stock Exchange in 1882. A tall classical-style building with an American flag on top. Ladies and gentlemen are walking and riding in horse-drawn carriages at street-level.

The New York Stock Exchange, then located at 10–2 Broad Street, now located at 11 Wall Street in Manhattan, has become symbolic of capitalism in the United States. (Illustration by Hughson Hawley, 1882.)


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Fall 2013



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Course Description

As we live in the aftermath of the Financial Crisis of 2008, there are renewed questions about the nature of the economic system—capitalism—within which we live. What are its benefits and drawbacks? Why does it garner both so much opposition and support? What are its moral, economic, social and political implications? Is it even a "system"? How has capitalism played out in different historical moments and regions of the world? This class addresses the question "what is capitalism?" from a social scientific point of view, rather than a classical economic one.


Related Content

Christine Walley. 21A.461 What is Capitalism?. Fall 2013. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu. License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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