Denver Professor Urges More Laziness

Laziness a 'political stance,' vehicle for social justice

People lie on a bed on the street during Lazy Day in Colombia
People lie on a bed on the street during Lazy Day in Colombia / Getty Images
January 9, 2018

The chair of the department of higher education at the University of Denver argued in a recent article for more laziness and blamed neoliberalism and the "corporate university" for its common negative perception.

Ryan Evely Gildersleeve contended that laziness is a "political stance" that can be made into a vehicle for social justice, if applied to the social science's emerging theory of "postqualitative inquiry that seeks to disrupt normative explanations of the world."

Gildersleeve classified "four overlapping yet somewhat distinct versions of laziness that form the basis of the lazy inquiry," shaping the "behind-the-scenes virtue of postqualitative inquiry," namely political, practical, artistic, and philosophical laziness.

Together, "they form an entangled web of laziness more so than individual pathways to lazy activity," he wrote in the article published Jan 9 in Qualitative Inquiry, a peer-reviewed social sciences journal.

Gildersleeve created a chart demonstrating the insight that can be gained by lazy actions. For instance, the lazy activity of taking a walk, "doesn't mean anything: a walk can just be a walk. So, therefore, any interview segment can just be words from an interview segment."

"Admiring athleticism" can lead to pondering, "does the soccer ball kick back?," and while practicing yoga, one may consider, "I should call Aaron back."

The lazy act of "generating a list of potential titles of papers I might one day never write," leads to the following sequence: "Concepts. Titles are concepts. Papers are extensions of these concepts. Not all concepts find a line of flight. Not all lines of flight become assemblages. Not all assemblages deterritorialize/reterritorialize. Concepts."

"Lazy" activities such as hiking or reading poetry boosts creativity, wrote Gildersleeve, but, "the neoliberal imperative of modern academic cares little for such practice, fearful it slows down the processes of production."

Gildersleeve described an ideal "academicus otiosus"—Latin for lazy academic—who "recaptures and valorizes lazy into political action," who can harness postqualitative inquiry to refute "the neoliberal condition of academe."

"The lazy, the leisurely, and the idle are to be rendered into the virtuous," he wrote.

The current state of a market-driven society results in a "capitalist ascription of being/becoming based on work," he writes, resulting in "subjectivation" or the process by which one becomes a subject.

Neoliberalism has infected "all facets of society," from family to government, he writes, yet still "never quenches its own thirst." As such, "we are all economic beings. We are all becoming-economies."

In his attempt to define postqualitative inquiry, Gildersleeve writes that it is a theory in which there is "no assumed representation of truth, no deterministic outcome of the research process, necessarily."

As such, "postqualitative researchers are less interested in representing human experience and more interested in mapping plausible realities."

Gildersleeve declined to comment.

Published under: College Campuses