"Busy Idleness": The Active and Moral Dimension of Boredom

Rasmus Johnsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    In this essay, I argue for the value of studying boredom as a social and organizational phenomenon. Recently, an interest in the more active side of boredom has led to the publication of a number of popular psychology books on boredom’s motivational capacities. A key point in this literature is the focus on the individual ability to distinguish between activity and productivity, and to exploit boredom for self-development purposes. I argue that this trend in boredom studies should prompt us to look closer, not only at the moral history of boredom, and at how social reality has organized around it, but also on what boredom, and the countermeasures it represents, “produce” as a central experiential component of alienated labor.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)806-815
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


    • Boredom
    • Boredom proneness
    • Donald Roy
    • Busy idleness

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