When I taught a course at Lang “Understanding Global Capitalism” first day I would ask each student to check the tag of the shirt of the person to their left: what country was it made in? We would write the list of countries on the blackboard and talk about how globalized apparel production would become (actually amazing how dispersed production is after the phase-out of the MFA). This allowed us to talk about the globalization of production, the structure of the modern corporation and the importance of branding and intellectual property, and the relation between trade flows and capital flows.
It seems odd now to recall that up until a few years ago, the concept of capitalism largely had fallen out of favor as a subject of academic inquiry and critique. Most scholars in the humanities and social sciences regarded the term as too broad, too vague, too encumbered by associations with either Marxism or laissez-faire. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, capitalism could be taken for granted, it seemed. No person or nation could escape the discipline of efficient, spontaneous, self-regulating, globalizing markets.