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The Laziness Myth

The Laziness Myth

Narratives of Work and the Good Life in South Africa

by Christine Jeske

Published by: Cornell University Press

240 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 3 b&w halftones, 2 b&w line drawings

  • ISBN: 9781501752513
  • Published: December 2020


When people cannot find good work, can they still find good lives? By investigating this question in the context of South Africa, where only 43 percent of adults are employed, Christine Jeske invites readers to examine their own assumptions about how work and the good life do or do not coincide. The Laziness Myth challenges the widespread assumption that hard work determines success by tracing the titular "laziness myth," a persistent narrative that disguises the systems and structures that produce inequalities while blaming unemployment and other social ills on the so-called laziness of particular class, racial, and ethnic groups.

Jeske offers evidence of the laziness myth's harsh consequences, as well as insights into how to challenge the laziness myth with other South African narratives of a good life. In contexts as diverse as rapping in a library, manufacturing leather shoes, weed-whacking neighbors' yards, negotiating marriage plans, and sharing water taps, the people described in this book will stimulate discussion on creative possibilities for seeking the good life in and out of employment, in South Africa and elsewhere.