Laziness is officially defined as a disinclination to do work despite having the ability to do so. It is most commonly used as a pejorative, though some see it in a positive light as an incentive to innovate in ways which reduce the need for labor (for an example of this, see Robert A. Heinlein's story "The Man Who Was Too Lasy to Fail").
In the context of politics, accusations of laziness are often used by supporters of the ruling classes as a way of demonizing the idea of reducing employment-dependence in the working classes. Proposals to increase or improve social safety-net programs are criticized as merely encouraging laziness, not to mention dependence on the state.
- 2016-12-18 laziness doesn't really exist; alternative interpretations (see my comment)
- The concept was probably invented by those who believed they were entitled to the work of others, as a way of shaming workers into being more productive, or labeling certain workers as unproductive and therefore worth less as part of a bargaining process. This attitude then filtered down into society at large, despite itself being counterproductive (reduced productivity typically has involuntary causes; accusing people of laziness -- i.e. telling them to "work harder" -- doesn't ameliorate those causes, and may exacerbate them).
- 2012-07-05 Are "flexible" labour markets the answer to unemployment?