One of the many fairy tales hegemonically attached to the world of work in capitalist economies is that all one need do is get a job and work hard, and those things will automatically lead to “the good life.” But what, exactly, is the good life? Is it a universal term or does it mean different things to different people in different places? What are the narratives attached to the “good life” and what are the narratives that come into play when the fairy tale does not come true? Finally, what happens when employers and employees have different ideas about the role of work in worker’s lives? In this brief, free-wheeling conversation, I discuss these questions and more with Dr. Christine Jeske, author of The Laziness Myth.

Dr. Christine Jeske is an associate professor of anthropology at Wheaton College. Prior to coming to Wheaton, Christine worked in microfinance, refugee resettlement, community development, and teaching while living in Nicaragua, Northwest China, and South Africa. Christine is the author of three books and many articles for popular and academic audiences. Her most recent book, The Laziness Myth, considers what makes work desirable, how racism shapes work, and how people find hope in undesirable working conditions.


The Laziness Myth: Narratives of Work and the Good Life in South Africa by Christine Jeske

Jeske, C. 2018. “Why Work? Do We Understand What Motivates Work-Related Decisions in South Africa?” Journal of Southern African Studies (44:1).

Ferguson, J. 2016. Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Jeske, C. 2022. “Introduction: Hopoes of and for Whiteness.” Journal for the Anthropology of North America (25:2).

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Mergers & Acquisitions
Mergers & Acquisitions
Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA)

SEA’s podcast, Mergers and Acquisitions demonstrates how anthropological and other perspectives can enhance and complicate understandings of economic life and contemporary events. Mergers and Acquisitions hosts interviews with leading economic anthropologists, provides reflection pieces on economic transformations and problems, and serves as a vehicle for new and established scholars to connect with each other. Recognizing that the best ideas and insights are rarely generated alone, Mergers and Acquisitions offers a collective mind-hive for furthering the study of economic life.