DOI link for Laziness
This chapter explores the scientifically often overlooked emotional experience of laziness. Despite its widespread presence and recognition in social and individual life, laziness has not received any substantial attention within social research. The chapter starts out by trying to conceptualise different forms and dimensions of laziness depending on its duration and its outcome. Then follows some sections that each in their way deal with different historical and social changes within our understanding and sanctioning of laziness. First, we move backwards in time and revisit the biblical and medieval warnings against the dangers and folly of ‘sloth’ as a historical backdrop for understanding contemporary attitudes. Following this, we will consider some of the defences and praises of laziness from philosophers and literary writers alike, particularly from the past few centuries. Then we will discuss how laziness relates to our contemporary social and political climate by looking at the revival of the so-called ‘work ethic’ and see how society constructs and labels different groups as ‘lazies’. Finally, we shall look at some of the consequences of living in a ‘high-speed society’ that puts pressures on the possibility and legitimacy of being lazy. Here we will also discuss some of the attempts to oppose or counter the increasing demands for optimising, accelerating and capitalising everything in contemporary social life. The purpose of the chapter is thus to show how the study of laziness may reveal many interesting aspects about social change and particularly the social values that are attached to our evaluation of those individuals or groups that do not seem to contribute to the common good.