Consumption as a Social Process within Social Provisioning and Capitalism: Implications for Heterodox Economics

32 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2013 Last revised: 24 Feb 2014

Date Written: February 24, 2014


The article discusses consumption as a social process that is a part of social provisioning and is in an evolutionary interplay with other social processes. The discussion is grounded in, but is not limited to the contributions of Thorstein Veblen. The first section delineates social provisioning as a framework for consumption inquiry. This section emphasizes that social provisioning is a part of collective life process embedded in culture and nature, and that it is comprised by two general sets of activities – those motivated by money and those that are not motivated by making money. The second section delineates features of capitalism as a system, so that it provides a social context for consumption inquiry. The third section formulates a categorization of social processes, one of which is the consumption process. Further, the section delineates the meaning and components of the concepts: social activities, institutions, and habits of life and thought. The fourth section applies these concepts to consumption social process in the specific context of capitalism. The section discusses consumption activities; institutions and systems of provision; and habits of life and thought – illustrating with examples obtained from various disciplines. The section introduces “gated consumption” as an example of a habit of life and thought. It is argued that the formulated analysis transcends the cultural-material dualism. Finally, the article draws implications of the offered analysis, concluding that the category of “consumers” is of little use to heterodox economics.

Keywords: Consumption Process, Social Process, Institutions, Consumption Activities, Social Provisioning, Habits of Life and Thought, Heterodox Economics, Class, Thorstein Veblen

JEL Classification: B52, B54, D11, D30, Z13

Suggested Citation

Todorova, Zdravka, Consumption as a Social Process within Social Provisioning and Capitalism: Implications for Heterodox Economics (February 24, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Zdravka Todorova (Contact Author)

Wright State University ( email )

3640 Col. Glenn Hwy.
Dayton, OH 45435
United States


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics