Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006 M05 16 - 384 pages

From the author of Crying, a witty, wide-ranging cultural history of our attitudes toward work—and getting out of it

Couch potatoes, goof-offs, freeloaders, good-for-nothings, loafers, and loungers: ever since the Industrial Revolution, when the work ethic as we know it was formed, there has been a chorus of slackers ridiculing and lampooning the pretensions of hardworking respectability. Reviled by many, heroes to others, these layabouts stretch and yawn while the rest of society worries and sweats. Whenever the world of labor changes in significant ways, the pulpits, politicians, and pedagogues ring with exhortations of the value of work, and the slackers answer with a strenuous call of their own: "To do nothing," as Oscar Wilde said, "is the most difficult thing in the world." From Benjamin Franklin's "air baths" to Jack Kerouac's "dharma bums," Generation-X slackers, and beyond, anti-work-ethic proponents have held a central place in modern culture.

Moving with verve and wit through a series of fascinating case studies that illuminate the changing place of leisure in the American republic, Doing Nothing revises the way we understand slackers and work itself.

 

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DOING NOTHING: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America

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An unrepentant former flower child, now a knowing academic, does some heavy lifting with his sociological history of goofing off.Lutz (English/Univ. of Iowa; Crying: The Natural and Cultural History ... Read full review

Doing nothing: a history of loafers, loungers, slackers and bums in America

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Motivated to examine what drives the slackers and loafers of America by the jolting realization that his 18-year-old son is a practitioner of "doing nothing," popular historian Lutz (Crying: A Natural ... Read full review

Contents

In which the Romantic hero the loafer and other odd variants in the early
103
NERVE CASES SAUNTERERS TRAMPS AND FLANEURS
141
W SPORTS FLAPPERS BABBITIS AND BUMS
176
WII BEATS NONC0NFORMISTS PLAYBOYS AND DELINQUENTS
215
DRAFT DODGERS SURFERS TV BEATNIKS
247
SLACKERS
281
Bibliography
321
Index
355
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About the author (2006)

Tom Lutz 's previous books include Crying: A Natural and Cultural History of Tears; American Nervousness, 1903: An Anecdotal History; and
Cosmopolitan Vistas. He lives in Los Angeles.

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