Habits, Infinite Jest and the Recoveries of Pragmatism

Stephen Dunne*, Michael Pedersen

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

    Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

    76 Downloads (Pure)


    Behaviourists treat habits as thoughtlessly undertaken actions. Pragmatists, by contrast, emphasise the role intelligence plays in habit’s cultivation. Although organisational analysts have tended to prefer behavioural approaches to habit, pragmatism has been recently resurgent. This paper analyses how David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest dramatises this hermeneutical dichotomy. The novel, we demonstrate, represents the difference between terminal decline and lasting sobriety by opposing the fates of two characters: the suffering addict (Randy Lenz) is characterised mechanistically whereas the recovering addict (Don Gately) is characterised experientially. Infinite Jest’s fictionalisation of addiction and recovery, we claim, emphasises the saving power of pragmatism. Wallace’s novel can therefore be read as another contribution towards the ongoing recovery of pragmatism both within and beyond organisation studies.
    TidsskriftCulture and Organization
    Udgave nummer2
    Sider (fra-til)111-123
    Antal sider13
    StatusUdgivet - mar. 2023


    • Habit
    • Pragmatism
    • Behaviourism
    • David Foster Wallace
    • Literary theory