Theorizing the Social Provisioning Process Under Capitalism: Developing a Veblenian Theory of Care for the Twenty-First Century

Document Type




Format of Original

8 p.

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

Source Publication

Journal of Economic Issues

Source ISSN



Thorstein Veblen highlighted a number of human instincts, one of which was the “parental bent.” In contrast to the other “positive” instincts, the parental bent is specifically other-regarding in that Veblen described it in terms of utilizing knowledge for the betterment of society. Veblen’s “parental bent” stresses the social embeddedness of humanity and the human instinct to care. Our ability to care is partially predicated on our social roles and the values embedded within those roles. Critically, this is influenced by the configuration of institutions within a society. Care is grossly under-valued. By drawing upon recent contributions to care in the context of an increased financialization of the economy and society, we seek to expand upon Veblen’s insight, and to argue that the most significant deficit confronting our capitalist society is not of the fiscal variety, but resides in care.


Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 49, No. 2 (2015): 583-590. DOI.