I'm going to assume that you, dear reader, don't subscribe to "Organisations and People, the journal of the Association for Management Education & Development" any more than I do. So I'm going to quote a fair bit of their review of Pat Kane's book The Play Ethic: A Manifesto For a Different Way of Thinking, as posted on Kane's blog, Play Journal:
Pat Kane’s book is every bit a manifesto, railing against the Protestant work ethic and New Labour’s ‘getting people back to work’ thinking, and suggesting a new ethic to cope with an unpredictable world. It is an eclectic collection of ideas and discussion, drawing from ancient and modern philosophy, art, music, education and probably every possible discipline you can think of. (The endnotes and references run to some 79 pages – this is a seriously researched text). But far from being a deep academic treatise, it is highly readable; a book that you can skim for ideas, read in depth or skip to the topic that interests.
This is not an anti-work book as some commentators have suggested, linking it to Tom Hodgkinson's How to Be Idle or Carl Honore's In Praise of Slow; it is not about promoting laziness or slothfulness, it is about challenging some the values and assumptions that exist in our education, politics and society.
As Kane explains in an early chapter: “The core statement of the play ethic now becomes clear. We need to be energetic, imaginative and confident in the face of an unpredictable, contestive, emergent world. We need to accept the complex relationship between all forms of play, whether ancient or modern. Play’s ultimate function for humankind is to maintain our adaptability, vigour and optimism in the face of an uncertain, risky and demanding world. However, we endure a political tendency in the developed countries that believes, by and large, that work is the most functional and useful mode of human existence.”
If that doesn't make you want to read the book, then you have the soul of a sea cucumber. You can order the British paperback at Powell's (still the best bookstore in the world, despite my recent scolding), or cue up for the forthcoming US edition on Amazon.