Sample Sociology Research Paper on Business and Society

Business and Society


The following is a discussion on Capitalism.  The research commences with a definition of capitalism and finds the beginning of capitalism in the countryside. The discussion of the social property relation necessary for the growth of capitalism follows, with an explanation on why they developed in agrarian communities. The paper then explores on the reasons why the social property relations differs from pre-capitalist relations according to Wood.  It explores on how relations between appropriators and producers became heavily dependent on the market. Capitalism was a major transformation that led to optimal exploitation of means of production to maximize profit, compelling the parties involved to depend heavily on the market.

Capitalism is the societal structure under which, only a small group of people have the ability to manufacture and distribute commodities. This minority group of people is referred to as the capitalist class. In this system, the rest of the population is referred to as the working class. This class is compelled to trade its ability to work in order to earn a salary. The capitalist class exploits the working class by making them produce goods and services at a small pay (Wood 2). They then gain extra profits by selling manufactured goods. The capitalists use the accumulated proceeds to better their lives or to develop and expand the production units. According to Wood, capitalism is not a pre-existing condition whose uprising is suppressed by unfavorable factors. Additionally, he opposes the notion that capitalism is a normal and predictable outcome of human nature or a development of original practices of trade. Rather, he is of the view that capitalism is as a result of particular limited historical settings. These settings need a lot of transitions in societal relations and in the way people relate to nature (Wood 3).

 Consequently, the assumption that capitalism originated from the city is ruled out. This is because in any city, there are trade and commerce practices taking place. As a result, the trend to classify capitalism with cities has normally been connected with the tendency to make it appear as an automatic result of ancient experience. Therefore, as opposed to Wood’s definition of capitalism, this suggests that the city naturally occurs as a potential capitalist. However, irrelevant hindrances have blocked every city giving rise to capitalism. These obstacles could be contradicting religious, social, ideological, political, or cultural practices (3).

Wood makes us understand that, capitalism was non-existence and was only established later in the human history. Capitalism was as a result of key social transformations. Its creation was driven by limited and particular factors of optimum accumulation of profits. This was achieved by using cheap labor to produce massive commodities. It could therefore not have originated from the town; on the contrary it began in countryside. This occurred later in the human history and in a particular location (3). Besides, the development of capitalism depended heavily on agricultural raw materials from the farms. These materials were then used in the production units to produce commodities for sale. Most of the farms were located in the countryside leading us to the conclusion that capitalism originated from the countryside as opposed to the city (John 102).

Social property relations necessary for development of Capitalism

A major social property relations necessary for growth of capitalism is unequal relationship between the landowners and the producers. This resulted to the creation of a class struggle. There was existence of dependent relation between two the classes; the weaker class attempted to free itself from the dominant class, where it succeeded the capitalism did not take root (See 47). For instance, Smith postulates that the growth of capitalism in England saw to the class struggle between the peasants, and the feudal lords. As much as the peasants tried, they were incapable of liberating themselves from the feudal lords’ domination. Conversely, the feudal lords could not uphold the conventional relation with the producers. Consequently, the feudal lords leased out their land to the tenant farmers (87). They developed farms and hired workforce from whom they solicited manual labor. This saw to the emergence of a fresh industrialist labor relation in the country, leading to the development of capitalism. 

 On the contrary, in France the farmers had the ability to free themselves from the dominion of the feudal lords. In addition, they were also able to retain control over their lands. It is for this reason that capitalist farming did not develop in France. In the same line, in Eastern Europe, the peasant class was very weak and therefore could not liberate itself from serfdom. This gave the lords a chance to dominate over them and reinforce feudalism. Class struggle is therefore one of the social property necessary for the advance of capitalism (Post 10).

Additionally, availability of wealth is another social property relation that was necessary for the growth of capitalism.  In Europe, some Feudal lords had riches, which were measured in terms of gold and silver. These riches were considered as idle money, which could be invested in trade. The investment of the idle money brought about the development of trade. Consequently, there was the emergence of a class of wealthy traders who invested their profits in business and industry.  This led to the development of a capitalist economy. The growth and development of trade led to the emergence of a new class of people known as the middle class. As the trade extended, innovative ways of producing commodities were invented. The capitalist system ensured massive production of commodities. As a result, the merchants earned huge profits leading to the development of capitalist system (Smith 1).

Reason why the social property relations developed in Agrarian communities

One of the reasons for the development of social property relation in agrarian communities lies in their need to provide for material needs. The peasant engaged in subsistence farming in order to earn their daily bread as they struggled to liberate themselves from the feudal lords.  The leasing of the land to the private owners left the peasants with no option, other than sell their labor to the private landowners. In order to earn high profits, they employed all possible means to acquire high production while spending little (Wood 4).

Additionally, Wood suggested that the development of trade lied on manufactured goods from industries. The industrial production relied on raw materials produced by agrarian communities.  In this regard, the private landowners had to employ strategies that ensured maximum production of raw materials for the industries.  One of the strategy included soliciting labor from the peasant, who worked for long hours under little pay (3). 

Similarly, the innovative growth in manufacturing sector entailed the employment of a good number of people who specialized in industrial production.  These industrial laborers never engaged in farming as a result, they needed to be sustained by the agricultural sector. It is in line with this that the social property relation developed in the agricultural sector. The agricultural production assumed a waged employment structure. Both industrial produced goods and agricultural products required good markets. This was very practical in an agricultural community (Wood 4).

How the Social Property Relations Differ from Pre-Capitalist Relations According to Wood

In capitalism, the overriding mode of production is based on unequal relation between the producers and the landowners. The manual labor is appropriated exclusively for economic gains. The peasants who are direct producers do not own the property; instead, they sell their labor for a wage, such relations. On the contrary, in pre-capitalist society, the producers own the land and do not require to engage in any paid work to earn their livelihood. The landowners get surplus labor by charging taxes and rental fee (Wood 4).

Furthermore, in pre-capitalist society in Europe, there was existence of a international trade. This trade was basically an economic activity that was not so much motivated by the imperative of amassing of products and competition. This is certainly opposed to capitalism that aims at outdoing all competitors. They achieve this by; accumulation of huge supplies and selling at exorbitant prices in order to accrue higher profits. Moreover, they reduced the cost of production while selling the produced supplies expensively.

Additionally, the pre-capitalist ideas were applied in the markets. There was no any unified market, on the contrary, people made profit by production of cost effective products while competing directly with other people in the same market. This is as opposed to the capitalism, whereby the capitalist ideologies are firmly employed. In addition, Capitalist society tended to produce luxurious goods intended to be consumed by the dominant classes. This is opposed to pre-capitalist societies, where goods were intended for specific purpose and for everyone in the society. For instance, in pre-capitalist society, peasants produced goods not only for their use like food, but also those which constituted basic needs like clothing. They took the surplus goods to the market and exchanged them with other products that they did not produce in their cottage industries. Evidently, this is opposed to capitalist societies where every aspect targeted profit and accumulation.

Additionally, the capitalist production exhibits a lot of exploitation. The establishment of unequal relationship between the capitalists and the tenants was aimed at maximizing cheap labor in order to lower the cost of production. This was non existence in the pre-capitalist society. The tenants had possibility of practicing subsistence farming for their daily needs; they did not require to seek for employment. The landlords when in need solicited labor directly from the peasant in form of lease. The landlords who needed to appropriate the produced goods acquired them directly from the market regardless of the prevailing conditions in the market (Wood 2).

How did relations between ‘appropriators’ and ‘producers’ become so market dependant?

For many years during the period of pre-capitalism, the tenants were being exploited by the capitalist. This is despite the fact that the market still existed during this period (Wood 3).  After the transition to capitalism, the appropriators and tenants, and the relationship that they shared came to depend heavily on the market. Several reasons brought about this dependency.

 First, even though the trade existed throughout the globe, its dominant principle was one of purchasing commodities in one market at a lower price and selling the same in a different market at a higher price. After the transition to capitalism, trade was now guided by the principle of competition and optimal accumulation of profits. As a result, the producers and the appropriators were compelled to rely heavily on the market in order to fit in the competition (Wood 3).

Second, during the pre-capitalism period, the majority of the populations were the producers and they possessed most of the land. On the contrary, the appropriators were either landlords or people who were highly ranked in the society. As a result, the producers did not have to engage in paid tasks. They were therefore not seen as a market commodity (Wood 4).

Similarly, the appropriators were able to increase their riches due to the powers and privileges that they had. They could easily get surplus labor from the producers by charging taxes and rent. Consequently, in this case, the connection between the producers and the appropriators was indirectly dependant on the market. However, the upcoming of capitalism reduced the control and privileges enjoyed by the appropriators. This rendered them unable to extract surplus labor by imposing taxes and rents. In the same line, capitalism brought about the wave of dispossession where most of the land was taken away from the producers. This meant that they had to engage themselves in paid work in order to sustain a livelihood. Similarly, the appropriators had to employ them in order to increase their wealth. As a result, their relationship became heavily dependent on the market (Wood 5).

Additionally, the lot in a society that is capitalistic is a product produced for the market. Most importantly, both appropriators and producers rely on market for the most fundamental situations of their own sustainability. For instance, workforce relies on the market in order to sell their skills as a product. Similarly, capitalists rely on it to purchase production labor. It is also in the same market that they sell their products in order to realize profits. The market is therefore the key determinant and controller of social reproduction (Wood 5).


The researcher is of the view that, capitalism is neither a habitual result of practices which began with the history of humans, nor does it occur naturally due to the influence of human nature consequently, the researcher opposes the view that capitalism originated from the city. He argues that such a view would mean that capitalism was naturally there from the start of human history. Additionally, the researcher establishes that unequal relation between the landowners and the producers with the resultant creation of a class struggle was the main social property relation that led to development of capitalism. This relationship deferred with pre-capitalist society where unequal relation between the landowners and the producers was non-existence. Additionally, the transition to capitalism brought about several social transformations. These revolutions brought about a reliance on the marketplace for the producer and the appropriator.

Works Cited

Ashley, Smith. ” Political Marxism and the rise of American capitalism “. Web. 1/12/2015

Ellen , Wood “The Agrarian Origins of Capitalism”. Web. 1/12/2015

Charles, Post. “The American Road to Capitalism: Studies in Class-Structure, Economic Development and Political Conflict”, 1620-1877 Historical Materialism Series 28, Brill, 2011. Print

Holton, John. “Cities, capitalism and civilization”. Routledge, 2013. Print

            Henri, See. “Modern Capitalism its origin and evolution”. Batoche books kitchener 2004. Print