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Conceptualizing CapitalismInstitutions, Evolution, Future$
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Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226168005

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226168142.001.0001

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A Definition of Capitalism

A Definition of Capitalism

(p.251) Chapter Ten A Definition of Capitalism
Conceptualizing Capitalism

Geoffrey M. Hodgson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter starts by tracing the origin of the word “capitalism” to works by Louis Blanc in the 1840s. The commonplace meanings of the term are considered, noting a prevalent focus on markets and private property. But these two features are much older than the dynamic economic system that emerged in the eighteenth century. Further criteria need to be added to the definition, including widespread employment relations and a developed financial system (emphasized by Marx and Schumpeter respectively). A full definition of capitalism is followed by a consideration of “state capitalism.” It is argued that the term inappropriate for Soviet-type economies but could be applied to post-Mao China, where the state plays a leading role in a private enterprise economy.

Keywords:   capitalism, Louis Blanc, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter, markets, private enterprise, employment relationship, financial system, state capitalism, China

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