Industrial Age can be defined as the time when people became actively engaged in the development of manufacturing machinery. The given historical period is associated with many break-through technological advances and inventions, which consequently permeated almost every aspect of human life. The industrial revolution is closely related to the rise of capitalism as well. Together, these two phenomena substantially contributed to economic democratization through the mass production of goods and the promotion of consumerism. During that time, job opportunities were created along the opportunities for leisure, which stimulated and accelerated the growth of a productive middle class. Nevertheless, despite multiple positive effects of capitalism and industrial revolution on the economic growth at the individual, organizational, and national levels, mass production can negatively affect traditional, cultural livelihoods, as well as other aspects of social life. It means that capitalism produces both winners and losers. Considering that the given issue is highly controversial, the given research project will aim to provide detailed research of the matter.
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The positive sides of capitalism are extensively described in the contemporary literature. As stated by Frieden and Rogowski (2014), its major advantage is “the extraordinary productive power that modern capitalism has unleashed, combining land, labor, capital, and human capital in ways that have increased output and income at a previously unimaginable pace” (p. 384). By doing so, capitalism managed to free many people from hard manual work and to foster greater demand for intellectual workforce. However, the given tendency threatens the survival of traditional craftsmanship that is characterized by smaller volumes of output and, usually, higher costs. As Frieden and Rogowski (2014) note, many artisans and farmers, whose work structures are often in line with traditional cultural practices, do not suit modern international markets and cannot survive in them. Thus, the preference for cheap, mass-produced goods by consumers and the choice of more profitable business systems by local entrepreneurs may negatively affect the regional cultural environment and make many customs vanish.
A possible mediatory way through which capitalism and mass production may affect culture is the change of social value orientation. According to Shahrier, Kotani, and Kakinaka (2016), “culture-gene coevolutionary theory argues that human beings learn ideas and culture through a social learning mechanism, and this cultural transmission shapes human behaviors and preferences along with genetical properties” (p. 0165067). It is possible to say that capitalism serves as such a social learning mechanism. It promotes the value of mass consumption and shortened product manufacturing cycles. Additionally, Shahrier et al. (2016) observe that, in capitalist societies, people tend to prefer competition over cooperation. It means they strive to gain more wealth, status, and prestige than others have. These findings may indicate that capitalism can largely contribute to the deterioration of interpersonal connections in communities and consequently lead to the overall worsening of the quality of life in the long run.
While researching the identified problems, it is important to evaluate the underlying features and characteristics of capitalism and industrialism, and understand if the capitalist system can produce equally sufficient resources for all members of the society. It is essential to comprehend if it is appropriate for the elimination of inequality between people. In the given context, the expected results of the study will be the identification of links between capitalism and the quality of social life, as well as the correlation between mass production and the preservation of cultural conventions, namely, crafts and traditional livelihoods.
Frieden, J., & Rogowski, R. (2014). Modern capitalism: Enthusiasts, opponents, and reformers. In L. Neal & J. G. Williamson (Eds.), The Cambridge history of capitalism, vol. 2: The spread of capitalism: From 1848 to the present (pp. 384-425). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Shahrier, S., Kotani, K., & Kakinaka, M. (2016). Social value orientation and capitalism in societies. Plos One, 11(10), 0165067.