HSW chapter 4
• Capitalism is not a natural and inevitable outcome of human existence; rather a result of
certain events that have occurred in the past
• Roots of capitalism: feudalism: a dominant socioeconomic formation that developed
between the fifth and sixteenth century in western Europe
• Feudalism: an agricultural system that grew out of the old slave societies (now known as
Britain, france, Germany, Italy). A complex social/economic/political system of duties
• Class of owners: owners (nobility)
Hierarchy of wealth and power
within the two major classes.
• The rent system replaced the system of forced agricultural service-work on own land and
give king a portion of the product
• A capitalist market is the key to an understanding of how feudal relations of production
declined over time.
• A market exists when people offer goods and services for sale to others in a more or less
systematic and organized.
• Commodity: an object that is produced specifically for exchange
• Feudal societies became capitalist societies; markets grew bigger and bigger until they
became capitalist ones.
• Capitalism was an outgrowth of feudalism
• The growth of capitalism-a socioeconomic formation that had its core the need to
intensify labour and improve productivity to increase profitability-seems to have been
most clearly rooted in England
• Before capitalism, classes existed.
• Dominant class took surplus from producing class by force. • After this, the rent system was introduced, where the landlord would set an amount the
peasant had to pay in rent to work the land, otherwise they could lose their livelihood but
wouldn’t be beaten or taken to jail.
• Thus, economic coercion began to play a role in the production of surplus.
• Therefore, merchants (especially in England) realized that there would be more profit if
they would provide raw materials and tools for those who made products for them. Thus
they became a class of owners referred by marx as bourgeoisie.
• Marx referred the new wage workers as proletariat; a class of workers made up of
displaced peasants, artisans and craftspeople.
• Capital: a way of using money with the specific goal of obtaining money
• An influx of capital from the rapid rise and expansion of colonialism.
• As capitalism developed, workers need to be disciplined to help increase profits, thus a
strict control over the employers by the employees is needed
• This caused a shift from the small-scale “cottage” production worsened the lives of the
workers. Even though classical feudalism was harsh, peasants were protected due to the
feudal bonds. Now they could be unemployed without any means of subsistence.
• Industrial revolution happened because there was a group of people with enough capital
to purchase the new technologies.
• The capitalist mode of production started after the industrial revolution in the eighteenth
• As market economies grew, feudal relations declined and two groups expanded and
gained power: monarchs and capitalist class. Monarchs gained political power and
capitalists gained economic power.
• Monarchs realized that their political power could be expanded via the wealth of the
rapidly expanding capital class. Capitalists sought the protection of a strong leader who
could limit the power of feudal lords.
• Nation: the notion of a group of people living within a geographical boundary who share
a common language culture and history.
• John Locke: argued ppl have inherent rights (to life, property and liberty) which exist
independent of the laws of any particular society. • Max weber felt that the origins of capitalism were closely linked to a new form of
Christianity that spread around 15 th century in Northern Europe. He suggested that
protestantism’s new world view was appealing to the growing class of capitalist