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International Trade Meaning and Definition of Capitalism

Meaning of Capitalism

An economic system that is based on private ownership; economic development is proportionate to and dependent upon the accumulation and reinvestment of profits.

Related Entries of Capitalism in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Capitalism in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Capitalism in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Capitalism in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Capitalism in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.


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What is Capitalism?

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An economic system of private ownership of property and commerce regulated by market forces of supply and demand.

An economic system of private ownership of property and commerce regulated by market forces of supply and demand.

Definition of Capitalism

The Canada social science dictionary [1] provides the following meaning of Capitalism: An economic system in which capital (the goods or wealth used to produce other goods for profit) is privately owned and profit is reinvested so as to accumulate capital. The dynamics of the economic exchange in capitalism are unique. In a barter system of economic activity a producer may grow a pound of potatoes and barter them for an equivalent amount of honey produced by someone else. In this exchange the goods bartered are of roughly equal value. In capitalism, however, a person uses capital to produce goods and then sells those goods for cash. The amount of cash received is greater than the value of the good produced such that a profit is created allowing for reinvestment in the capital stock and to support the owner and producers. See: CAPITAL /LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE in this legal dictionary and in the world encyclopedia of law.

Capitalism: Resources

Notes and References

  • Drislane, R., & Parkinson, G. (2016). (Concept of) Capitalism. Online dictionary of the social sciences. Open University of Canada


This term is a noun.

Etimology of Capitalism

(You may find capitalism at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

1854, “condition of having capital;” from capital (n.1) + -ism. Meaning “political/economic system which encourages capitalists” is recorded from 1872.


Legal English Vocabulary: Capitalism in Spanish

Online translation of the English legal term capitalism into Spanish: capitalismo (English to Spanish translation) . More about legal dictionary from english to spanish online.

Related to the Legal Thesaurus

Definition of Capitalism

In relation to social issues, a meaning of capitalism is provided here: economic system characterized by the following: private property ownership exists; individuals and companies are allowed to compete for their own economic gain; and free market forces determine the prices of goods and services.


See Also

  • Legal System
  • Country
  • Jurisdiction
  • Immigration
  • Consulate


See Also

  • Governance
  • Contract Enforcement
  • Convergence and
  • Corporate Codes of Conduct
  • Corporate
  • Fordism and Post-Fordism
  • Globalization
  • Global Market
  • Individualism
  • Marxism
  • Private Military
  • Property Rights
  • Social Democracy
  • Trust
  • Unemployment
  • Varieties of Capitalism

Further Reading

  • Coates, D. (2000). Models of capitalism: Growth and
    stagnation in the modern era. Cambridge, UK: Polity
    Jessop, B. (1990). State theory: Putting the capitalist state in
    its place. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
    Kitschelt, H., Lange, P., Marks, G., & Stephens, J. (Eds.).
    (1999). Continuity and change in contemporary
    capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    Marx, K. (1934). Capital. New York: E. P. Dutton.
    Polanyi, K. (1957). The great transformation: The social and
    political origins of our time. Boston: Beacon Press.
    Przeworski, A. (1990). The state and the economy under
    capitalism. New York: Harwood Academic Press.
  • Capitalism in the Encyclopedia of Governance, Mark Bevir – University of California, Berkeley, USA, 2007, SAGE Publications



See Also

  • Economic Systems

Further Reading

  • Capitalism in the Encyclopedia of Business and Finance, 3rd Edition, Macmillan Reference USA, 2014


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