Boredom and Poverty: A Theoretical Model

In The Moral Psychology of Boredom. London: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 171-208 (2022)
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The aim of this chapter is to articulate the ways in which our social standing, and particularly our socio-economic status (SES), affects, even transforms, the experience of boredom. Even if boredom can be said to be democratic, in the sense that it can potentially affect all of us, it does not actually affect all of us in the same way. Boredom, I argue, is unjust—some groups are disproportionately negatively impacted by boredom through no fault of their own. Depending on our social position and self and others’ perceptions of our SES, we can experience it more frequently, more intensely, and in ways that either leave us incapable of alleviating it or push us to harmful and maladaptive responses to it. Hence, seen in a socio-economic light, boredom can become a serious threat to our physical and psychological well-being. Insofar as freedom to pursue and achieve one’s well-being is essential to human life and a primary concern of contemporary liberal societies, boredom should be considered to be a social justice issue. The disproportionately negative effects of boredom on lower SES groups indicate the profound ways that boredom affects individuals and further disadvantages those who are already in marginalized positions. Contrary to many historical accounts, boredom is not only the experience of the elite, the wealthy, or those with ample free time. In our current political, social, and economic climate, boredom is primarily the experience of the less privileged, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized.

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Andreas Elpidorou
University of Louisville


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