Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for
Central characteristics of capitalism include capital
competitive markets, a price system, private property and the recognition of property
voluntary exchange and wage labour. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in capital and
markets whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.
Market economies have existed under many forms of government and in many different times, places and cultures. Modern capitalist societies — marked by a universalization of money-based social relations, a consistently large and system-wide class of workers who must work for wages (the
and a capitalist class which owns the means of production — developed in Western Europe in a process that led to the Industrial Revolution. Capitalist systems with varying degrees of direct government
have since become dominant in the Western world and continue to spread. Constant economic growth is a characteristic tendency of capitalist economies.
Critics of capitalism argue that it concentrates power in the hands of a minority capitalist class that exists through the
of the majority working class and their labour;
profit over social good, natural resources and the environment; is an engine of
corruption and economic instabilities; and that many are not able to access its
benefits and freedoms, such as freely investing.