Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Dustin Berna

Second Advisor

Jason Campbell

Third Advisor

Alejandro Chafuen

Abstract

Economics plays a vital role in people’s lives and societal development. Research shows a prevalence of large deficits in economic literacy among the U.S. population, which may help perpetuate misperceptions about how economic systems operate and why they render specific results. The issue of human nature and how it influences policy design is explored. The purpose of this study is to explore Americans’ perceptions and misperceptions regarding three economic systems—capitalism, socialism, and communism—to determine if there is a generational gap. Furthermore, this research explores how people acquire their epistemological assumptions on economics in the era of Internet; and how perceptions and misperceptions about these three economic systems and economic literacy may play an important role in macro-conflict formation. This dissertation identifies specific conditions, factors, and characteristics driving this conflict-saturated social trend. It leverages a thirty-five question survey, designed for this research and administered among U.S. residents, as a method of inquiry to provide a quantitative description from the lens of macro conflict. This study also analyzes some of the effects of the tech revolution by executing data about how people are currently getting their impressions about economic systems and the primary sources and experiences that inform them. This research argues that endogenizing economic knowledge can have far-reaching repercussions in the prevention and avoidance of macro conflict. It also recommends the use of non-Marxist theoretical frameworks to analyze conflict.

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