Work Won’t Love You Back
A deeply-reported examination of why “doing what you love” is a recipe for exploitation, creating a new tyranny of work in which we cheerily acquiesce to doing jobs that take over our lives.
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How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone
By Sarah Jaffe
Bold Type Books
You’re told that if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Whether it’s working for “exposure” and “experience,” or enduring poor treatment in the name of “being part of the family,” all employees are pushed to make sacrifices for the privilege of being able to do what we love.
In Work Won’t Love You Back, Sarah Jaffe, a preeminent voice on labor, inequality, and social movements, examines this “labor of love” myth—the idea that certain work is not really work, and therefore should be done out of passion instead of pay. Told through the lives and experiences of workers in various industries—from the unpaid intern, to the overworked teacher, to the nonprofit worker and even the professional athlete—Jaffe reveals how all of us have been tricked into buying into a new tyranny of work.
As Jaffe argues, understanding the trap of the labor of love will empower us to work less and demand what our work is worth. And once freed from those binds, we can finally figure out what actually gives us joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.
“Sarah Jaffe is asking, and helping to answer, fundamental questions at the exact right time. Read this book to help clarify the demands list for a far better society. Jaffe’s decades of shrewd and discerning journalism helped her produce this excellent book. It is a multiplex in still life; a stunning critique of capitalism, a collective conversation on the meaning of life and work, and a definite contribution to the we-won’t-settle-for-less demands of the future society everyone deserves.”—Jane McAlevey, author of No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age
“Wry, passionate, and at times heartrending, Work Won’t Love You Back finds Jaffe breaking bread with artists, interns, domestic workers, video game designers, academics, and many others who have seen their labor systematically devalued, dismissed, and disregarded due to the nature of what they produce and factors beyond their control, like gender, race, and identity. Jaffe explores the ‘labor of love’ myth, which is familiar to starving artists of the past and today’s content creators, and reminds us that none of this is immovable; change is always possible. As Jaffe writes, despite the strict theoretical connection between labor and capital, in practice, that relationship status is often… complicated. ‘Labor, after all, is us,’ she says. ‘Messy, desiring, hungry, lonely, angry, frustrated human beings.’”—Kim Kelly, author of Fight Like Hell
“Work Won’t Love You Back brilliantly chronicles the transformation of work into a labor of love, demonstrating how this seemingly benign narrative is wreaking havoc on our lives, communities and planet. By pulling apart the myth that work is love, Jaffe shows us that we can reimagine futures built on care, rather than exploitation. A tremendous contribution.”—Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and No Logo
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