Linton’s Week’s long-ish article on NPR, “Lazy In America: An Incomplete Social History” (1 July 2011), does a nice job of demonstrating how the tension between being productive and industrious versus having leisure time (or how one spends his/her leisure time) has continuously been used to promulgate the idea of one type of American over another:
But always there was a parallel American voice that was alarmed by donothingness. In 1973, the rate of increase in American productivity had slowed down so much, the Department of Commerce launched a $10 million advertising campaign to encourage Americans to be more productive. “Americans didn’t get rich by goofing off,” was one of the ads.
Namely, Weeks does an nice job (in a short space) of letting us hear the official voices of American identity formation–government and the media–so as to get a sense of how direct their message of either do-more/make-more or donothingness was being wielded, at specific times, to create a national sense of “Americaness.”
What Weeks doesn’t do is indicate how much of this discourse was used to Other entire groups who were resistant to do-more/make-more ideology.* Ultimately, wanting to work less and be lazy more kept plenty of people outside of ”American” for quite some time.
*Usually, these minority groups were resistant to 12-hour, six-day work weeks. See the rise of unions.