Economic Definition of Monopoly

The word monopoly has existed long before it was ever a board game that consisted of exchanging rainbow colored money for little plastic houses. Dictionaries across the board have indisputable definitions of this word. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a monopoly as complete control over something. That “something” can be boiled down to anything and everything from the undivided supply of goods to an area to the service of a specific market or location in its entirely. Oxford English Dictionary continues this definition with stating that a monopoly can also be a condition of having no competition in one’s trade or business market.

Another way to understand how this term works in the economy is by imagining a business that makes cars. For this case scenario Business A is the assembler of said car that needs to be constructed. In a non monopolized car industry, Business A would have the choice between Businesses  B and C’s rubber for their tires and the option between Businesses D and E for steel to make the body of their cars. These adjacent businesses create competition for each other and give the manufacturer of the car alternatives to the materials in question. The alternatives are usually based on price and quality while aiding in the  decision of whose rubber or steel they want to purchase. In a monopolized car business, Business A would own the steel and rubber businesses and therefor have more control over the prices of the product of their finished product and limit the options of the public.

Such an instance could be said to have happened similarly, but not exactly,during the early days of printing and, due with that the novice days of the public sphere. Places like Britain saw very early on that the knowledge that was being permeated through print which created access for those who were literate to obtain some kind of knowledge, and with that power, from these circulated texts. For these reasons they began to fund print shops that were ideologically and physically close to the crown and only printed materials versed in the opinions of the government (1). The efforts of those high up the social ladder to censor print, through paying off shops can be viewed loosely as the government trying to monopolize the print industry. Their measure to creating a high stamp tax could be viewed as another measure to have total control over the written word and the people of Britain’s ability to retrieve information about their public sphere (2). The only alternative that British people had other than print was the medium of a written manuscript, which was still considered pricey next to the value tags of printed items. When the stamp tax had reacher its height, the price of a newspaper was half a days wage. The incredible outcome is that instead of British people giving up on having the daily newspaper to nourish their curiosity of that was going on with society, they shared copied and statistic state that one newspaper could have been read as many as 7 or 8 times (3). Time has allowed for these practices to change but even during the height of these issues many got away with trying to demean the print trade, many of them passed go and collected $200 and few of them had to use their “Get Out of Jail Free” cards .


(1)Adelman, Joseph. “Understanding the New German Critique Article.” Lecture, Framingham State University, Framingham, MA. September 14, 2016.

(2)Adelman,”German Critique.”Lecture, FSU. 9/14/16.

(3)Adelman,”German Critique.”Lecture, FSU. 9/14/16.



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