According to Bertrand Russell in his essay, "In Praise of Idleness,"" society casts the idea of work in a positive light, denoting it as virtuous and affirming that "the manual worker is more honored than anyone else. " Russell, however, believes that people are working too much and neglecting everything else life has to offer. He expresses a strong opposition to the "modern " notion of working long hours and leaving little time for leisure. Russell's central argument is the idea that everyone in the workforce would be better off if the ordinary workday was halved to four hours a day. This reduction of work hours, explains Russell, would resultantly provide substantially more leisure time; leisure time that many in the workforce deserve and would put to good use. Russell tries to prove that society dramatically overstates the necessity of working, ultimately seeking to logically persuade the reader that having more of the day dedicated to leisure time carries positive implications that will never be realized if society continues its work-centric philosophy.
Russell stresses his perspective that not only is too much time committed to working, but the reason this happens is because of an unequal and unfair distribution of work in the social hierarchy. To explain this point, he provides two definitions of work: "first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so"" (Russell). Russell claims that it is much more desirable to be the one assigning the work than to be the one doing the work. In Russell's view, the ones assigning the work are oftentimes wealthy, yet they are not actually working; they are undesirably idle due to the fact that "their idleness is only rendered possible by the industry of others." In saying this, Russell establishes that there is a sort of cause-and-effect relationship to working.