Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
This paper seeks to develop a theory of the social profit as a category of economic planning in Venezuelan state enterprises. Designed as a metric for accounting and resource allocation, the category seeks to unite social objectives, such as the provision of goods and services to historically marginalized communities, with long-term sustainability by way of returns that can defray costs of operation. Exploring the efforts of the Venezuelan government to create an endogenous food system, I evaluate the potential of this category as a tool for post-neoliberal development and a way of freeing the public sector from dependency on oil revenue. As a form of economic planning that engages the market and strives to valorize an initial capital stock, I argue the goal of the social profit is to orient the commercial and productive activity of enterprises toward maximization and absorption of petro-surplus. But I also argue the tool is performative and that it serves to obviate the tensions of rentier capitalism. Targeted at building stable internal markets by recycling surpluses from the state oil company, I conclude that the category does not ultimately negate the complexities associated with balancing supply and demand or pricing and that tensions associated with the realization of the value of commodities, the exploitation of labor power, and the terms and conditions of labor continually surface in state enterprises.