Culture of capitalism

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The culture of capitalism or capitalist culture is the set of social practices, social norms, values and patterns of behavior that are attributed to the capitalist economic system in a capitalist society. Capitalist culture promotes the accumulation of capital and the sale of commodities, where individuals are primarily defined by their relationship to business and the market. The culture is composed of people who, behaving according to a set of learned rules, act as they must act in order to survive in capitalist societies.[1]

Elements of capitalist culture include the mindset of business and corporate culture, consumerism and working class culture.

Capitalist culture and ideology[edit]

While certain political ideologies, such as neoliberalism, assume and promote the view that the behavior that capitalism fosters in individuals is natural to humans,[2][3] anthropologists like Richard Robbins point out that there is nothing natural about this behavior - people are not naturally dispossessed to accumulate wealth and driven by wage-labor.[4]

Political ideologies such as neoliberalism abstract the economic sphere from other aspects of society (politics, culture, family etc., with any political activity constituting an intervention into the natural process of the market, for example) and assume that people make rational exchanges in the sphere of market transactions. However, applying the concept of embeddedness to market societies, the sociologist Granovetter demonstrates that rational economic exchanges are actually heavily influenced by pre-existing social ties and other factors.[5]

In a capitalist system, society and culture revolve around business activity (the accumulation of capital). As such, business activity and the market exchange are often viewed as being absolute or "natural" in that all other human social relations revolve around these processes (or should exist to facilitate one's ability to perform these processes).[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robbins, Richard (2005). Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism. Pearson. p. 13. ISBN 978-0205917655. The culture of capitalism is devoted to encouraging the production and sale of commodities. For capitalists, the culture encourages the accumulation of profit; for laborers, it encourages the accumulation of wages; for consumers, it encourages the accumulation of goods. In other words, capitalism defines sets of people who, behaving according to a set of learned rules, act as they must act
  2. ^ Ed Rooksby (2010). "Who's correct about human nature, the left or the right?". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
  3. ^ Bruce Thornton (2016). "Two sheers for capitalism". Frontpage Magazine. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  4. ^ Robbins, Richard (2005). Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism. Pearson. p. 13. ISBN 978-0205917655. There is nothing natural about this behavior. People are not naturally driven to accumulate wealth. There are societies in which such accumulation is discouraged...People are not driven to work; in fact, contrary to popular notions, members of capitalist culture work far more than, say, people who live by gathering and hunting.
  5. ^ Granovetter, M. (1985). "Economic action and social structure: the problem of embeddedness". The American Journal of Sociology. 91 (3): 487. doi:10.1086/228311.
  6. ^ Bertell Ollman. "Market Mystification in Capitalist and Market Socialist Societies". New York University. Retrieved 2016. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ Robbins, Richard. Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism.

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