Why It's OK to Be a Slacker  book cover
1st Edition

Why It's OK to Be a Slacker

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after April 9, 2021
ISBN 9780367338183
April 9, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
160 Pages

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Book Description

"Stop slacking off!"

Your parents may have said this to you when you were deep into a video-gaming marathon. Or maybe your roommate said it to you when you were lounging on the couch scrolling through Instagram. You may have even said it to yourself on days you did nothing. But what is so bad about slacking? Could it be that there’s nothing bad about not making yourself useful?

Against our hyper-productivity culture, Alison Suen critically interrogates our disapproval of slackers—individuals who do the bare minimum just to get by. She offers a taxonomy of slackers, analyzes common objections to slacking, and argues that each of these objections either fails or carries problematic assumptions. But while this book defends slacking, it does not promote the slacker lifestyle as the key to something better (such as cultural advancement and self-actualization), as some pro-leisure scholars have argued. In fact, Suen argues that slacking is unique precisely because it serves no noble cause. Slacking is neither a deliberate protest to social ills, nor is it a path to autonomy. Slackers just slack. By critically examining the culture of hyper-productivity, Suen argues that it is in fact okay to be a slacker.

Key Features

  • Demonstrates the uniqueness of slacking, via a critical examination of six distinct "pro-leisure" philosophical accounts.
  • Articulates a taxonomy of slackers, as well as in-depth examinations of Hollywood slackers and slackers in academia.
  • Examines common objections to slacking (like the freeloading problem), and offers a rebuttal to each of them.
  • Offers an understanding of our productivity culture from an existential perspective.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why talk about slacking?

1. How is slacking different from other forms of leisure?

2. What are the different types of slackers?

3. Are Hollywood slackers full-fledged slackers?

4. How to spot an academic slacker?

5. Is slacking morally bad?

6. What if everyone were a slacker?

7. Do slackers have an identity crisis?

Conclusion: What does slacking mean in the age of the pandemic?

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Alison Suen is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Iona College, New York. She is the author of The Speaking Animal: Ethics, Language and the Human-animal Divide (2015) and the volume editor of, Response Ethics (2018).


Alison Suen’s brilliant treatise on slacking is the best philosophy book I’ve read in a long time. Highly original, wickedly funny, wonderfully insightful, and full of gems, this little book delves into what it takes to be a slacker. Staying true to what she sees as the essential purposelessness and indifference of slacking, Suen concludes that it’s okay—but just okay—to be a slacker. The last chapter on pandemic slacking then and now (1918 Spanish Flu and Coronavirus) is dazzling. Treat yourself to Why It’s OK to be a Slacker, a thoroughly enjoyable and deeply thoughtful read.
Kelly Oliver, W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University

"Why It’s OK to Be a Slacker is well argued and highly entertaining. At a time when we are obsessed with conventional metrics of success and productivity, Suen’s arguments on why slacking is acceptable provide interesting and useful balance."
Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning