- How anthropologists understand and explain the issue.
- Discuss how the anthropological perspective aids in understanding the issue.
Global Capitalism from an anthropological perspective
Throughout my study in the University, I concentrated much into carrying out research
about the global and local business. Capitalism has remained to be the most crucial and central
part of all the business activities in the whole world. Due to its huge impact towards business,
capitalism has remained to be a center of scrutiny among many researchers and philosophers
around the world. There are those great thinkers who have publicly discredited capitalism, and
still a good percentage of people accredit capitalism. However, anthropologists have always
written and put up front their justification toward capitalism ideals, hence the focus of this
Capitalism is a term with varied meanings and is a times used to define the common
social life systems that we all live in. Believed to have been in existence for quite a long period
now, people have given numerous definitions of capitalism depending on the understanding of
each. It can be said that capitalism is the social system that is now spread to all countries. The
system spells that private individuals rather than the government or the public own all production
and distribution of goods. Few people who own production plants, transport vessels, and other
wealth are commonly referred to as capitalists (Fernand, 1979). This means that any economy
where industry and trade processes are under the control of private corporations, with the
intention of accruing profits practices capitalism. In an economy of this kind, capitalists have the
authority to decide the price at which to exchange their goods and services.
All Western countries apply capitalism as their economic system where all the
productions and other key sectors remain under private ownership. According to the findings and
research carried out by anthropologists, this type of system greatly opposes the socialist economy
(Serge, 1996). Consumerism is the force that is pushing capitalism into success because it has
given the masses a chance to benefit from their personal consumption as compared to capitalist
This article is a presentation of details on the distribution of wealth and incomes in the
United States, and it explains these distributions as indicators of power. I know some information
that this proposal will reveal on the concentration of wealth distribution not known to many will
be a surprise (Germain, 2000). Authority and power are as a result of wealth and economical
influence. The capitalist who own the profit making projects and activities instead of the state
remain to be the most powerful individuals. The power that capitalists have enables them to
influence various facets of the society including social, economic, and political systems of a
country. The powers that capitalist posses have in recent times been experienced after Obama
proposals to adopt a progressive tax system where those will large incomes are taxed more. The
criticism came from political leaders from different major political parties, hence a clear
indication of the how power influences. Nevertheless, the government can still reduce the costs
of living by increasing the minimum amounts of wages and salaries of lowest paid workers.
Global capitalism is one of the reasons why workers at lower level earn low pay (Serge, 1996).
Bigger corporations and individuals have the opportunity to exploit workers across the world. It
has become easy to export labour force form other counties where their minimum salaries are
low. These workers use their skills, knowledge, and experience to increase production for the
owners of the means of production. Therefore, it is on this premise, that it becomes important to
have policies and laws to avoid exploitation orchestrated by global capitalist.
Anthropologist pegs their definition and understanding of global capitalism on the
cultural, social, personal, and historical factors. The concept of global capitalism is understood
from the historical trends of doing business. Society keeps on changing as people adopt new
styles of living and carrying on with their daily activities (Department of Anthropology, 2014).
Nowadays, the space of doing business has expanded across borders. Those that own the means
of production have devised ways to reach potential customers across the world to accrue huge
profits and amass wealth. Capitalism is therefore, a free market, having few rich people that own
the means of production with many that render their services at low wages. Those that benefits
from this relationship are the owners. Therefore, anthropologist perspective on globalism
capitalism provides an insights and understanding of evolution ad functionality of global
Anthropologists understand and explain the issue of global capitalism through various
ways with most explanations being based on the foundational work of Marx, Engels, and Lewis
Morgan among many other philosophers (Richard, 2007). Some of the ways anthropologists
explains and understand the concept of global capitalism is through analysis of various aspects
including, organization of social relations, physical reality of people, examination of the human
nature of continuous praxis and lastly through investigating the importance of historical context
of development (Department of Anthropology, 2014).
Society has evolved to its modern globalised status. The transformation has been
experienced as the society has moved from primitivism to civilization. According to the Marxists
version, this transformation has gone though different stages including, primitivism,
communism, feudalism, capitalism and to communism. These stages have continued to evolve
up to the current stage known as global capitalism where, across the globe, there exist capitalists.
To explain and enhance understanding of the concept of global capitalism these
anthropologists also use modes of production as well exemplify in the stages of development that
form the base of a society. Production modes determines structures such as governments, laws,
political apparatus and other legal bodies, and as well determines the ideologies such as
religions and philosophies held by people at different period of time (Frieden, 2007). Example
of this is the class struggle that served to advance these stages. As changes do occur, changes
realign and this causes people to employ different strategies. For instance, ruling class always
have vested interest and they will resist any change that appears to threaten their power.
Therefore, the ruling class continues to use ideologies that lead to false consciousness of those at
the lower cadre of the society. Such strategies therefore, have contributed to increase capitalized
across the globes.
Anthropologist perspectives certainly help or aids in understanding the issue of global
capitalism in many ways. One way it aids in understanding the issue is through explanation of
what capitalism is. Capitalist is something that has existed for long period of time and it
continues to revolve. People are self-centered and therefore, they work hard to accrue more
profits. In most cases, they exploit those under them also those that work for them to accrue huge
profits and retain their material wealth (Frieden, 2007). This trend is therefore, understood
through appreciating the stages of development.
Furthermore, it is important to understand and appreciate that through politics and
decision-making processes, policies and procedures are created that contributed to the global
capitalism. Therefore, through anthropologist perspectives which interrogate historical
developments, it helps to understand the issue deeper. People and even corporations make
decisions every time and it is evident that, global capitalism is a product of these decisions
(Haslett, 2000). People that have the financial power as well as leadership power have
contributed to global capitalism. They make decisions, sign agreements to trade and through
such programs, those that owns the means of production continue advancing their selfish
interests across the world in expense of many or majority that earn little. Therefore, it is evident,
that anthropologists have been able to provide clarification and precise information concerning
global capitalist and how it is advanced in the society.
The leaders in society have the power and therefore can influence others very easily.
They can do this through mystification of ideologies. Most of leaders that employ this strategy
are interested in preserving their status quo. They are resistant to change and will remain
defensive, especially in the circumstances that they feel threatens their position or status
(Marcus, 2005). This is what is experienced in many of the counties across the world. The gap
between the have and have-nots is wide and this has caused many negative social implications.
For instance, poor leadership is advanced by ascension to power by people that are wealthy and
this enables them to amass power.
Cultures and way of live is always changing as anthropologists do argue. This is not
something that has begun today, but is something that has been there since time immemorial and
is going to be experienced. Changes happen in all facets of ours society including, economic,
social and political systems. Therefore, global capitalism can as well be understood as one or
part of the changes that do occur in society (Barry, 1999). The changes in people lifestyle,
changes in the technologies and ways of doing business have contributed to global capitalism.
People actually, do learn from sharing information and emulating what others do. Those that
accumulate wealth, use the same to influence others.
As I conclude, it is apparent that indeed anthropologist perspective on global capitalism is
valuable to enhancing understanding of the issue. Global capitalism has come a long way; as it
can be understood through closer look at historical events and the changes in social paradigms
among others. Across the globe, capitalism has gained root as few wealthy people continues to
own means of production and to command authority to poor majority. Capitalist are interested in
making profit caring less about the minor households that earn less.
Barry, S, 1999, Resisting McDonaldization, Sage: London.
Department of Anthropology, 2014, ‘Anthropological theories a guide prepared by students for
students’, Available at:
Germain, R, 2000, Globalisation and its Critics, MacMillan: Basingstoke.
Haslett, M 2000, Marxist Literary and Cultural Theories. New York; St. Martin’s Press.
Fernand, B, 1979, The Wheels of Commerce: Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century,
Harper and Row.
Fletcher, J, 2004, Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford.
Frieden, J, 2007, Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century. W. W. Norton
& Company; New Ed edition
Marcus, A 2005, ‘The Culture of Poverty Revisited: Bringing Back the Working
Class’, Anthropologica, vol. 47 no. 1, pp. 35-52.
Richard, RH, 2007, Global problems and the culture of capitalism, Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Serge, L, 1996, The Westernization of the World, Polity: Cambridge.