We’re currently living in an era characterized by hyper-productivity. Whether it’s your punch-in, punch-out job, the side hustles and extra gig work you pursue to help make rent, the drive to produce and consume “content” during every waking hour, or the expectation to look a certain way and constantly keep up with whatever trends surround you — it’s relentless.
The behaviors associated with overwork didn’t emerge organically or by accident — they were consciously manufactured and imposed on us over decades and even centuries as a deliberate project intended to create a pliant, productive class of workers that can serve the demands of capital accumulation.
It wasn’t always this way. There was a time in human history where rest and relaxation were prioritized. This was true to some extent even just a few decades ago. Recall the archetype of the slacker, popularized through films such as “Reality Bites” or the music of the 90s, in comparison to the today’s reigning archetype, the striver, who hustles and grinds their way to the top (supposedly) through overwork, side hustles, and the never ending drive to monetize everything they can.
How have the concepts of “productivity” and “laziness” been manufactured and deployed by capital to cultivate pliant workers? How have the ideals of hyper-productivity encouraged not just willing but enthusiastic participation in the hustle-and-grind culture of modern neoliberal capitalism? How do these expectations negatively impact our bodies, minds, and communities? And what can we do to escape the productivity prison?
These are some of the questions explored in this conversation between Upstream Podcast’s Robert Raymond and Dr. Devon Price, where they discuss Price’s latest book, “Laziness Does Not Exist,” published by Atria Books.