Work and Leisure: Money, Identity, and Playfulness

Wolfgang Fellner

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume


This chapter deals with the (mis-)conception of work and leisure in orthodox economics. Based on critique of the ‘disutility theory of labour’ and the labour market model, it proposes an alternative approach. Besides earning income (i.e. instrumental benefit), the chapter identifies and emphasizes certain non-instrumental benefits from paid work: identity related benefits (i.e. a sense of meaning and a sense of belonging) and playfulness. If these non-instrumental benefits are missing or greatly underrepresented in paid work they may cause distress and alienation. Incorporating the neglected non-instrumental benefits into economic concepts of paid work, behaviour, well-being and development allows to overcome central deficits of orthodox economic theory. Issues like the effects of a redistribution and reduction in working hours as well as increased quality of paid work can be addressed by the proposed approach.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Ecological Economics: Nature and Society
Editors Clive L. Spash
Place of PublicationNew York
Pages214 - 223
ISBN (Electronic)9781315679747
ISBN (Print)9781138931510
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502047 Economic theory
  • 502001 Labour market policy

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