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Professor defends laziness as a ‘virtue’ that ‘combats the neoliberal condition’

You’d expect the typical progressive to say that calling someone lazy is an ableist slur.

If you’re the department chair of higher education at the University of Denver, on the other hand, being called lazy is a badge of honor.

Prof. Ryan Evely Gildersleeve, whose background is “primarily out-of-classroom learning contexts with non-dominant youth,” argues today in the research journal Qualitative Inquiry that “lazy practices can become useful for postqualitative inquiry that seeks to disrupt normative explanations of the world.”

In fact, laziness is “a political stance”:

As political action, laziness, then provides postqualitative inquiry with an additional tool for contributing to social justice via social research. Laziness combats the neoliberal condition in which academic research is situated and might serve as a virtue of postqualitative inquiry.

Part of Gildersleeve’s argument is redefining what is considered “lazy” in an academic context: Hiking and reading poetry are frowned upon under “the neoliberal imperative of modern academia,” but they “might indeed be necessary for transforming research practices into becoming inquiry.”

MORE: U. Denver students work to ban ‘Pioneers’ nickname

Unsurprisingly, the professor says the concept of laziness is used to harm poor people, nonwhites, “overweight individuals” and women. But they can also use laziness as a weapon against “the dominant power structure” by, for example, housekeepers “completing the minimum required to keep their jobs” to protest “the subjugation of their profession and personhood.”

Gildersleeve’s essential beef is against “neoliberalism,” which he defines as “the wholesale application of free market ideology to the social realm” – not just “the monetization of faculty work-product” but such basic attributes of an ordered life as “encapsulated time,” otherwise known as making appointments.

You can’t achieve social justice while being a hard worker in the conventional sense, according to Gildersleeve:

Thus, to meet social justice commitments, postqualitative inquiry must affirmatively disavow neoliberalism and confront it with new sets of materialist/empiricist toolkits for configuring assemblages in retaliation of the reductionist economic becomings and becoming-economies. We must refute our work. We must become lazy.

He suggests academics are already well-situated to practice laziness because, well, that’s their reputation:

Academics, having the most elite of educations, have the privilege to engage in lazy work/think/ play activities, even if differentially located in the political economy of American higher education. Indeed, the fact that many in popular culture believe that academics are already lazy begets a social opening to demonstrate how wisely such laziness can be useful in generating knowledge that confronts the neoliberal condition. Reclaiming the virtues of laziness can become part of the public good of university research.

Read the 10-page paper if you dare, or the abstract if you’re … lazy.

MORE: U. Denver censors and surveils supposed ‘free speech’ wall

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

Add to the Discussion

  • Conservwarrior

    “As political action, laziness, then provides postqualitative inquiry with an additional tool for contributing to social justice via social research. Laziness combats the neoliberal condition in which academic research is situated and might serve as a virtue of postqualitative inquiry.”

    Liberals have perfected the art of linking big meaningless words together that say nothing but impress other liberal professors to reward them with their PhD.

    • ontheroadwitheric

      I thought the same thing, too.

  • Rowdup

    Next…lying , adultery, robbery, poisoning, filthy food, defecating in one’s kitchen floor ..will all be found to be virtues in that crazy leftist SJW world…Uh..oh…someone just said they all also might be racist.

  • Tatiana Covington

    Nah. Too much work. Springer’s on!

  • Liquidators1

    The professor lives in the right place as regular use of marijuana makes you lazy and the state of Colorado is going to lose business.

  • noway2no

    laziness is a luxury afforded by the dominant western patriarchal paradigm we all suffer under. /sarc/

    • Patriot Baker

      You forgot to mention anything about cis-gendered normative white supremacy. I can’t take you seriously if you leave that out.

  • Tatiana Covington

    Still havent read it… yawn.

  • palaeomerus

    Get lazy and sloppy with her paycheck and see what happens.

  • YeahNope

    I think as a culture we should eliminate all subsidies to people capable of providing for themselves, then we can allow them to be as lazy as they want, right up to the point where they die of malnutrition.

  • dirtydog1776

    What the hell did he say? Gibberish and typical liberal claptrap.

  • Tatiana Covington

    Get to this next week. Or something. Whatever.

  • Dr. Donny

    I once had a world-class engineering boss who said laziness was a virtue for engineers since it resulted in finding the optimum solution in the shortest amount of time, allowing one to maximize time for other activities. On the other hand, unlike numb-nuts in the social sciences, we actually did productive work and earned our keep. I would suggest the very existence of a journal titled ‘Qualitative Inquiry’ says it all – and validates most of our opinions about the pseudo-scientific nature and uselessness of the social sciences.
    I note both the author and myself have PhDs from UCLA. However, mine is in electrical engineering where I was a Howard Hughes Doctoral Fellow. Somehow, I get the feeling that I am a whole lot smarter than this guy, and have had a much more productive and rewarding career.

    The best things about his paper are at the very end – including his acknowledgement that no one paid him to do this ‘research’, and his references which show that he is not an isolated idiot. Cheers.