Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Since the early 20th century, the concept of capitalism has been used to capture the structure and dynamics of a particular historical formation of economy and society that first emerged during the late Middle Ages in Southern Europe and later spread to Northwestern Europe. Capitalism emphasizes the attainment of profit through the operation of the market and private ownership of the means of production. This entry describes the role of markets and property rights in capitalism and examines the functions of firms and institutions in its operation. The characteristics of capitalist culture are then discussed. The entry closes with a review of endogenous critiques of capitalism and of the shape it may take in the future. Since its beginnings in Europe, capitalism has expanded to virtually all parts of the globe. Capitalism can be contrasted with subsistence economy, feudalism, socialism, and slave economy. Third World developing societies may contain insular ...