The Procrastination Economy

The Big Business of Downtime

256 pages

7 halftones, 1 table

February, 2018

ISBN: 9781479844234



Add to Cart Available: 1/12/2018

Also available in


Ethan Tussey is Assistant Professor of Communication at Georgia State University.  He is the Coordinating Editor of In Media Res, and co-founder of the Atlanta Media Project.

All books by Ethan Tussey

How mobile devices make our in-between moments valuable to media companies while also providing a sense of control and connection
In moments of downtime – waiting for a friend to arrive or commuting to work – we pull out our phones for a few minutes of distraction.  Just as television reoriented the way we think about living rooms, mobile devices have taken over the interstitial spaces of our everyday lives.  Ethan Tussey argues that these in-between moments have created a procrastination economy, an opportunity for entertainment companies to create products, apps, platforms, subscription services, micropayments, and interactive opportunities that can colonize our everyday lives.
But as businesses commoditize our free time, and mobile devices become essential tools for promotion, branding and distribution, consumers are using these devices as a means of navigating public and private space.  These devices are not just changing the way we spend and value our time, but also how we interact with others and transform our sense of the politics of space.
By examining the four main locations of the procrastination economy—the workplace, the commute, the waiting room, and the “connected” living room—Ethan Tussey illuminates the relationship between the entertainment industry and the digitally empowered public.


  • "Wasting time has become big business, as brands extend across cyberspace and into seemingly every area of our lives....offers a useful analysis of how Twitter and TV have become so intertwined and how mobile devices have changed and expanded the living room experience."

    Kirkus Reviews

  • "[An] engrossing study.  Tussey's book is likely to strike a chord...with the many readers who see their smartphones and other mobile devices as a help, rather than hindrance, to their lives.  He has crafted a thoughtful...approach to a pervasive aspect of modern life."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "Mobile devices and social media apps are only the most overt elements. In his overview of the system, Tussey focuses on the network of content providers, subscription services, consumer-behavior monitors and data-mining algorithms that operate, so to speak, in the hidden depths of our screens."

    Inside Higher Ed

  • “Ethan Tussey offers an exciting and foundational concept—the 'procrastination economy'—that is sure to have a long life and change the way we think about entertainment and mobile technology. Insightful and original, incorporating both industry insight and audience use, this book takes a smart approach to a new media phenomenon.”

    —Amanda D. Lotz, author of The Television Will Be Revolutionized

  • “A lucid and innovative rethinking of the cultural politics of mobile media. Building on astute, site-specific fieldwork, Tussey picks apart moral panics and tired corporate paradigms alike. The book shows instead how complex adaptive behaviors now constitute industry-user interactions within the “in-between times,” “non-spaces,” and strategic “mobile day-parts” of digital and social media.  This book forces scholars and developers alike to question the sacred cows of media specificity and new technology exceptionalism.”

    —John T. Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television