© 2015, Journal of Economic Issues / Association for Evolutionary Economics. Cautionary tales admonishing against the evils of envy crowd religion and folklore across cultures. Pre-capitalist societies attempted to suppress envy, and familial and community relations held the emotion of envy in check through social sanctions. Capitalism, however, encourages envy. The connection between capitalism and envy is not new. Thorstein Veblen (2007) methodically addressed it in his explanation of invidious distinction and emulation. As capitalism has evolved into its present incarnation of neoliberalism, however, envy has also evolved. The evolution, nature, and role of envy within neoliberalism must be studied in order to understand more fully its consequences. This research seeks to examine the social ontology of envy. According to advocates of neoliberalism, inequality serves an important social function: It is the great motivator, without which individuals would not have incentives to improve. Inequality and - by extension - envy are thus heralded as the prime catalysts of economic activity.
Wrenn, M. (2015). Envy in neoliberalism: Revisiting Veblen's emulation and invidious distinction. Journal of Economic Issues, 49(2), 503-510. https://doi.org/10.1080/00213624.2015.1042796