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On work and idleness


  • Regenia Gagnier
  • John Dupre


In this essay we review a number of important historical and everyday conceptions of work, which reveal both the diversity of such conceptions, and also deep tensions, especially between positive (self-fulfilling, sociable) aspects of work and negative (laborious, exploitative) aspects. Due attention to these complexities suggests great caution in deciding how domestic work, including caring work, should be seen in relation to other kinds of work. We also argue that a very broad conception of work including, certainly, domestic and other work outside the market, while not appropriate for all purposes, is essential for considering the appropriate place of work, as opposed to idleness, in the good life. The possible value of idleness, we argue, has been obscured by the productivist ethic embedded in the major Western conceptions of work.

Suggested Citation

  • Regenia Gagnier & John Dupre, 1995. "On work and idleness," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(3), pages 96-109.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:1:y:1995:i:3:p:96-109 DOI: 10.1080/714042251

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    Cited by:

    1. Ailsa McKay, 2001. "Rethinking Work and Income Maintenance Policy: Promoting Gender Equality Through a Citizens' Basic Income," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 97-118.


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