Outsourcing your Life: Exploitation and Exploration in “the 4-Hour Workweek”

Managing ‘Human Resources’ by Exploiting and Exploring People’s Potentials

ISBN: 978-1-78190-505-0, eISBN: 978-1-78190-506-7

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 1 January 2012

Abstract

This article discusses how the concepts of exploration and exploitation are fruitful for understanding individual fantasies of escape from the demands of contemporary workplaces. We examine one influential articulation of such fantasies, namely the best-selling self-help book “The 4-Hour Workweek.” This book advocates that individuals outsource the bulk of the routine (“exploitation”) tasks of their lives, leaving themselves free for creativity, play, and leisure (“exploration”). In this way, a radical separation of exploitation and exploration at the individual level is proposed. We examine the meanings and contradictions of such ideas by discussing how they may function as powerful escape fantasies for those facing corporate overwork. However, we argue that the solution proposed is unsatisfactory because of its individualism, which fails to see the inherently social nature of work and life.

Keywords

Citation

Costas, J. and Grey, C. (2012), "Outsourcing your Life: Exploitation and Exploration in “the 4-Hour Workweek”", Holmqvist, M. and Spicer, A. (Ed.) Managing ‘Human Resources’ by Exploiting and Exploring People’s Potentials (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 37), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 221-247. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X(2013)0000037012

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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