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Monopoly is the power to control economic activity in some field or situation. Monopolies may exist naturally, be established by law, or arise in the course of competition.

Concentration of capital

According to Karl Marx the dynamics of capitalism result in the concentration and centralization of capital in fewer and fewer hands.[1]

Medieval guilds

In late feudal and early modern European cities guilds, associations of craftsmen, customarily controlled skilled trades. Guilds had an apprenticeship system which trained youths to become journeymen skilled in a craft, then masters who operated workshops employing journeymen and training apprentices.


In early modern Europe the crown actively engaged in direct regulation of trade, a system of mercantilism, freely granting monopolies to favored persons and associations. A modern form of mercantilism was used in Japan to promote industrial development in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Natural rustic monopolies

In rural and village settings natural monopolies in trade are typical due to lack of trade sufficient to support competition. Custom and ownership patterns also play a role.


  1. "Karl Marx The Concentration and Centralization of Capital"

External links and further reading