Definition: Capitalism is an economic system that emerged in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and was discussed quite a bit by sociologist Karl Marx. From a Marxist perspective, capitalism is organized around the concept of capital (the ownership and control of the means of production by those who employ workers to produce goods and services in exchange for wages). The key to capitalism as a social system is a set of three relationships among 1. Workers, 2. The means of production (factories, machines, tools), and 3. Those who own or control the means of production.