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Self-employment in Do the Right Thing Essay

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Self-employment in Do the Right Thing

Self-employment is often confused with capitalism. This is because the word capitalism has come to mean "free markets" and "free enterprise," rather than a specific type of economic system. However, the conflation of the term capitalism with these other terms reduces the concepts available for doing social scientific analysis. We need to be able to identify the traditional capitalist system: a system based on free wage labor creating products that are owned by capitalist directors who are distinct from these original wage laborers. Self-employment is then distinct from this capitalist economic system precisely because it is based on free independent labor creating products that are owned by the individual direct producers. In other words, a self-employed laborer is very different from a capitalist laborer. This difference is, without question, of great consequence and worthy of social scientific analysis.

Most past conceptions of the self-employed direct producers have regarded this unique economic system as of only minor importance (if even that) in a world dominated by feudalism and/or capitalism. However, historically self-employment has played an important role in many societies, including the United States, and continues to do so today. The relative prevalence and particular types of self-employment in society influences other social processes, including political processes, cultural processes, and individual psychology.

In a society where self-employment exists, it is simply not possible to adequately understand and explain social change in the absence of a concept of self-employment (and a concept that is clearly distinct from other types of production and distributio...


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... way that is very different from the relationship between producer and product in other class processes. It is, therefore, all the more tragic in the film when the pizzeria is destroyed. It is not simply the destruction of a work place, but the destruction of Sal's identity as a self-employed producer (although this identity can, persumably, be resurrected in a new structure). For Mookie this is better than harm having been done to Sal, the person, and this is why he redirects the hatred of the crowd away from Sal and his sons to the building. But for Sal, it is difficult to take a great deal of solace in this diversion (although in the end, he seems to harbor no ill will towards Mookie, perhaps because he understands the context in which Mookie threw the garbage can through the pizzeria window) because some essential aspect of his identity has been destroyed.


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