Boredom and social meaning

J. M. Barbalet

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    212 Citations (Scopus)


    Meaning is necessary in social processes. An absence of meaning in an activity or circumstance leads to an experience of boredom. This is a restless, irritable feeling that the subject's current activity or situation holds no appeal, and that there is a need to get on with something interesting. Thus boredom emotionally registers an absence of meaning and leads the actor in question towards meaning. Boredom, then, is central to key social processes centered on questions of meaningfulness. Given the pervasive preconditions for boredom, release from boredom is a factor that explains characteristic social practices, including risk taking and intergroup conflict.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)631-646
    Number of pages16
    JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999


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