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Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone

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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. 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 "b 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. 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 nurse, 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.


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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. 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 "b 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. 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 nurse, 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.

30 review for Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ang

    The first half of this book was absolutely riveting. The second half was...not as riveting. I don't know if it's because the author REALLY had a clear thesis in the first half of the book (and the academia chapter, actually), but lost the thread a bit in the second half or what. That said, this is a good book about the exploitation of all different kinds of labor, and how we got here. Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the ARC! The first half of this book was absolutely riveting. The second half was...not as riveting. I don't know if it's because the author REALLY had a clear thesis in the first half of the book (and the academia chapter, actually), but lost the thread a bit in the second half or what. That said, this is a good book about the exploitation of all different kinds of labor, and how we got here. Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the ARC!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tintin

    To summarize: work is terrible. Love is too precious to be wasted on work. Neoliberalism is a likely culprit for a lot of our labour-related discontents. Unionizing and a complete overhaul of how work is structured as well as our personal relationships to it are in order. The first half of the book I found to be much stronger than the second half; the first half read like a history of labour interwoven with workers' stories of unionizing, work conditions, and the thinning out of the welfare stat To summarize: work is terrible. Love is too precious to be wasted on work. Neoliberalism is a likely culprit for a lot of our labour-related discontents. Unionizing and a complete overhaul of how work is structured as well as our personal relationships to it are in order. The first half of the book I found to be much stronger than the second half; the first half read like a history of labour interwoven with workers' stories of unionizing, work conditions, and the thinning out of the welfare state. Meanwhile the second half read more like a series of anecdotes and stories about individual experiences regarding the existing contexts of industries driven by "passion." I particularly enjoyed the parts in the first half about discourse around love and work, for example how love tends to be weaponized in union-busting. As the insertion of love and passion into work appears to be recently emergent, Jaffe's insights about the unilateral feminization of labour as a consequence of second wave feminism resulting in the rise of precarious labour is also very convincing and well fleshed out.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emmett

    *I received a free ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Work Won't Love You Back felt like it could have been so much more. While the first half of the book was cohesive and interesting, the second half felt much less so. The book is divided in two parts and I am not sure what happened, but I felt like my interest completely dropped off in the second half. I found it to be incredibly boring, but for the chapter on technology. The segments on art, academia, and sports pu *I received a free ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Work Won't Love You Back felt like it could have been so much more. While the first half of the book was cohesive and interesting, the second half felt much less so. The book is divided in two parts and I am not sure what happened, but I felt like my interest completely dropped off in the second half. I found it to be incredibly boring, but for the chapter on technology. The segments on art, academia, and sports put me to sleep. That being said, the first half was great and I found all of the research and personal stories surrounding family work and domestic work to be of particular interest. Jaffe touched on topics from witch hunts to family actors in Japan to white supremacist nationalist groups, but only wrote a few sentences about each. The rest of the chapters followed a formula of Personal Story in Indusry + History of Industry Since Dawn of Time + Little Bit More Personal Story That Doesn't Really Wrap Things Up. The book overall felt too broad and I questioned at the end what the purpose of it being written was. It could basically be summed up as “everyone is miserable working, we should love each other and enjoy our lives… Join a union? I guess.” I felt that giving the same spin on every single industry was just excessive and felt like beating a dead horse. In conclusion, jobs are shit and we are all miserable. 2.5, rounding down to a 2.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paige McLoughlin

    The age of masculine breadwinner factory employees as the main image of the working class is no longer. The working class is more feminine in helping, education, childcare, health, retail, hospitality, precariat gig workers, it is more diverse and fragmented, and except for places like warehouses and a few remaining factory floors has a hard time linking up and coordinating in its own interest. The mindset of the working class is not as contained or compartmentalized as the clock punchers of ea The age of masculine breadwinner factory employees as the main image of the working class is no longer. The working class is more feminine in helping, education, childcare, health, retail, hospitality, precariat gig workers, it is more diverse and fragmented, and except for places like warehouses and a few remaining factory floors has a hard time linking up and coordinating in its own interest. The mindset of the working class is not as contained or compartmentalized as the clock punchers of earlier eras. The service economy while sometimes more interesting the kind of work than factory production taps in things like creativity, networking, emotional labor. Having a passion for your work or loving your job is a new expectation which is a double-edged sword. Being passionate about the job is now expected by employers for even the least remunerative and mundane or tedious or precarious employment since if you don't pay lip service to your passion as a shoe salesman will get you replaced by someone who will. And should you lose employment or not get a highly networked gig "well you obviously didn't love it enough" is your own fault. Employers expect you to get low pay especially if you like what you do. The demands are not compartmentalized and often you take work home. These problems demand flexible gig workers is the endpoint of commodifying your personality and passion and self to a brand on the market to be bought and sold. No guarantees of future employment no set hours and no putting work-life aside even spilling over to online personas and trying to raise families or pay off college debt or find downtime are challenges. Since the working class is so fragmented diverse and often with many isolated workers who can't coordinate with differing needs a laundry list of protections and bargaining measures and offerings are needed for different members of the working class. Coordination and political aka legal solutions are going to be needed and a whole laundry list for this diverse working class. Like overtime, vacation pay, childcare provisions, eliminating college debt and free education, vacation time, working hour limits, disability, and LGBT allowances, provisions to help People of color. It requires a host of things to help a very diverse set of people with diverse needs but to get them coordination is needed across this highly diverse class to get all these goodies. The problems of this are daunting with plenty of opportunities for division and rule for capital to stop it. Diagnosis and pointing towards solutions but winning them is the problem.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Micah

    I'll be discussing this book on January 27 at 8 PM EST with the author Sarah Jaffe and Chicago teacher Kenzo Shibata. You can watch it either live or afterwards here. I'll be discussing this book on January 27 at 8 PM EST with the author Sarah Jaffe and Chicago teacher Kenzo Shibata. You can watch it either live or afterwards here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jolene

    This is the easiest five-star rating I've given in a long time. While listening to every chapter, I thought, THIS is the one! THIS chapter makes the book! When I review this on Goodreads, I need to remember to talk about THIS one! But then I listened to the next chapter and felt the same way. The title Work Won't Love You Back sounds like a self-help book, Jaffe reads the audiobook with the intonations of Kristen Bell on Gossip Girl, BUT DON'T LET THAT TURN YOU OFF. This is essential reading. Sh This is the easiest five-star rating I've given in a long time. While listening to every chapter, I thought, THIS is the one! THIS chapter makes the book! When I review this on Goodreads, I need to remember to talk about THIS one! But then I listened to the next chapter and felt the same way. The title Work Won't Love You Back sounds like a self-help book, Jaffe reads the audiobook with the intonations of Kristen Bell on Gossip Girl, BUT DON'T LET THAT TURN YOU OFF. This is essential reading. She gives the history of ... work: how neoliberalism transformed work from a necessity to a calling, from a way to support your life to life itself. Section 1: "What We Might Call Love" explores work that society has tricked us into thinking is adequately compensated by the work itself: mothering, nannying, teaching, nonprofits, and even the service industry where you get to be part of the Walmart/Culver's/Toys"R"Us "family." This section spoke to my soul. Section 2: "Enjoy What You Do!" looks at art, internships, academia, the tech industry, and sports. In the conclusion, she talks about all the other industries she explored (bartenders, actors, hairdressers, therapists, organizers, etc), and I find myself wishing this was an ongoing project or podcast so everyone could see their work (their selves!) explored so thoroughly. Throughout, Jaffe cites Astra Taylor, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Angela Davis, among other thinkers, and considers how covid-19 exposed many of the holes in the logic of capitalism. And of course, she ends with love, quoting Silvia Federici: "We want to call work what is work so that eventually we might rediscover what is love." I'm glad we bought the audiobook, instead of borrowing it, so I can return to it in the future, but I also kind of wish I had a print copy to mark up.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julien

    Work Won't Love You Back is a timely absolutely vital addition to the discussion on late stage capitalism and its discontents. It is a blend of the personal stories of individuals working in the caring and service industries, and a glimpse into the history of those same industries. It breaks down the "how we got there" with labor history, and points the way toward new ways of pushing back against the predominant narratives of work we find ourselves in today, by outlining the stories of those cur Work Won't Love You Back is a timely absolutely vital addition to the discussion on late stage capitalism and its discontents. It is a blend of the personal stories of individuals working in the caring and service industries, and a glimpse into the history of those same industries. It breaks down the "how we got there" with labor history, and points the way toward new ways of pushing back against the predominant narratives of work we find ourselves in today, by outlining the stories of those currently pushing back. It is a much need balm to the dangerous tendency, especially of millennials, to put more of themselves into work than we get out, "doing more with less," as a badge of honor, rather than a mark of the absolute shambles our economy is in. It also questions whether institutions, like NGOs are even able to do the necessary work of change when they are subject to the same forces that cause the problems they are combatting in the first place. If such a large chunk of time is spent on fundraising and playing the game with an eye to said fundraising, is it even possible to do the radical work needed to fundamentally change our society in a way that eliminates poverty, etc.? In a time when everything is being subsumed by capital, and love is no exception, this book is vital. I would recommend this for anyone interested in labor history, criticism of our current capitalisms, and especially anyone in a caring/service industry. It's important that we challenge the assumptions that lead to the exploitation of workers, especially the harnessing and abuse of carers' desires to help people and do good. FTC disclosure: I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joy Matteson

    An intense deep dive into our ideas and ideals about work in a capitalist society. It's frankly rather brutal to read at times, but also deeply important. It's also rather surreal to read about her studies into how work and the pandemic play out in almost real time to underscore the need for a different way of thinking about work that matters. She gives reasonable arguments for a universal basic income and insightful stories of individuals who bear the brunt of the exploitative labor, such as do An intense deep dive into our ideas and ideals about work in a capitalist society. It's frankly rather brutal to read at times, but also deeply important. It's also rather surreal to read about her studies into how work and the pandemic play out in almost real time to underscore the need for a different way of thinking about work that matters. She gives reasonable arguments for a universal basic income and insightful stories of individuals who bear the brunt of the exploitative labor, such as domestic workers and teachers in public schools. I did howl out loud at her quote from the Harvard Business Review about the popular work app "Task Rabbit": basically these apps are the "Internet of 'Stuff Your Mom Won't Do For You Anymore''. (Pretty much, brah.) Overall, this is quite the deep dive into a variety of professions that won't just not love you--they exploit you. Or, more accurately for Jaffe, the capitalistic society that created those professions and meters out the paychecks are actually the ones who exploit us.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Paige

    This book is a compilation of the working lives of homemakers, teachers, retail workers, nonprofit staff, artists, interns, college professors, techies, and professional athletes in developed countries. It's 2021, I'm sure at this point most of us are disillusioned already. But for the people still holding on to the "American Dream" this book will open your eyes while breaking your heart. I give this five stars because it is well written, well researched, and a necessary read for anyone going in This book is a compilation of the working lives of homemakers, teachers, retail workers, nonprofit staff, artists, interns, college professors, techies, and professional athletes in developed countries. It's 2021, I'm sure at this point most of us are disillusioned already. But for the people still holding on to the "American Dream" this book will open your eyes while breaking your heart. I give this five stars because it is well written, well researched, and a necessary read for anyone going into a field of work with the expectation that the selfless love and service they provide will be reciprocated.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Engaging journalistic style writing, with citations! Labor activism + social justice! I didn't entirely read this in order, and it worked out fine. The chapters do kind of build on each other but they also work as stand-alones, so I started with the areas I was most interested in (teaching, higher education) and later moved to chapters that I didn't realize would be so interesting (internships). I've been pushing this onto everyone I know. It's kind of hilarious to me how often the immediate reacti Engaging journalistic style writing, with citations! Labor activism + social justice! I didn't entirely read this in order, and it worked out fine. The chapters do kind of build on each other but they also work as stand-alones, so I started with the areas I was most interested in (teaching, higher education) and later moved to chapters that I didn't realize would be so interesting (internships). I've been pushing this onto everyone I know. It's kind of hilarious to me how often the immediate reaction is "pooh pooh, that's not relevant to me" and then later I find out they're trying to get their own copy!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tyler K

    Everyone says it: you should love what you do (for work). Through stories told by a variety of workers across industries in their own words, Jaffe demonstrates how that simply just isn't the case. In fact, that pressure is really just a pretense for workers to be further exploited and alienated from what we produce. The solution? Love each other, and work less. Very thought provoking and challenging to a lot of my own assumptions. Read with the Dig bookclub. Everyone says it: you should love what you do (for work). Through stories told by a variety of workers across industries in their own words, Jaffe demonstrates how that simply just isn't the case. In fact, that pressure is really just a pretense for workers to be further exploited and alienated from what we produce. The solution? Love each other, and work less. Very thought provoking and challenging to a lot of my own assumptions. Read with the Dig bookclub.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This book is exactly what I'm interested in, although I couldn't finish all of it. The writing is good and I appreciate Jaffe's stance and thorough research, but as it progressed it became somewhat too dense and academic for me and I lost interest. This is more of a reflection on me and my timing with this book rather than the book itself. Jaffe does seem to deliver on the promise of analyzing the myth of loving work and how it results in working class people chasing a labour ideal that simply d This book is exactly what I'm interested in, although I couldn't finish all of it. The writing is good and I appreciate Jaffe's stance and thorough research, but as it progressed it became somewhat too dense and academic for me and I lost interest. This is more of a reflection on me and my timing with this book rather than the book itself. Jaffe does seem to deliver on the promise of analyzing the myth of loving work and how it results in working class people chasing a labour ideal that simply doesn't exist, and the ways in which late capitalism fuels this fallacy. I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    2.5 stars? Perhaps I went into this book with the wrong expectations: it was far more about the history and systems that have led to the existence of such "exploitative" jobs than it was about how to better navigate that work-life balance for oneself, so from that perspective, it was well-researched and thorough. However, throughout, the economist in me kept thinking that many of the points made could be refuted with a relatively simple labor supply and demand analysis? Finally, to echo what man 2.5 stars? Perhaps I went into this book with the wrong expectations: it was far more about the history and systems that have led to the existence of such "exploitative" jobs than it was about how to better navigate that work-life balance for oneself, so from that perspective, it was well-researched and thorough. However, throughout, the economist in me kept thinking that many of the points made could be refuted with a relatively simple labor supply and demand analysis? Finally, to echo what many other reviewers have said, the two halves felt quite disconnected and the transition between them was abrupt.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ryo

    I received a copy of this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway. I'm perhaps the wrong audience for this book, since I'm usually not a nonfiction reader, nor am I an economist or a sociologist, but being in a job where I seem to be surrounded by people who seem to have entered the field based on love or at least mild interest in it, I found the subject of the book interesting. The first half examines how women have historically been expected to take care of their families without being paid for i I received a copy of this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway. I'm perhaps the wrong audience for this book, since I'm usually not a nonfiction reader, nor am I an economist or a sociologist, but being in a job where I seem to be surrounded by people who seem to have entered the field based on love or at least mild interest in it, I found the subject of the book interesting. The first half examines how women have historically been expected to take care of their families without being paid for it, with the assumption that they do it out of love for their family, and so this work shouldn't need to be compensated. And the author goes through other jobs that this mentality has spread to, like teaching and those in the nonprofit sector, where they are often exploited because people are assumed to have taken these jobs out of love, and any attempts at trying to get a better wage or working conditions are seen as greedy. The second half discusses artists and other professions where the "starving artist" myth has created an assumption that people pursue certain endeavors to express their own creativity or talent, and these people are viewed as being fortunate to be able to do this kind of work, leading to long hours and/or low pay. The first half felt more cohesive, as there's sort of a common thread of the attitude toward unpaid domestic work spreading to other service industries. The second half didn't feel quite as cohesive to me. It's hard to really compare interns from every industry, who get their own chapter, to something like computer programmers, who are in another chapter. Especially when the author highlights the fact that many universities have an internship as a required part of the curriculum, it's hard to really see internships as part of the group of jobs where the work is supposed to be an expression of oneself and its own reward. It was difficult for me to see the connection of the "starving artist" to all of the jobs presented in the second half. But overall, this was a very well-researched book (the endnotes take up almost 15% of the page count), and I enjoyed the wealth of human stories and experiences presented in this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David Dayen

    I actually blurbed this book so I won't repeat myself except to say that you, reader, should read it. It's a thoughtful perspective on work and love. I actually blurbed this book so I won't repeat myself except to say that you, reader, should read it. It's a thoughtful perspective on work and love.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This book says that we are told to love our job but our jobs won’t love us back. In other words, capitalists tell us that so that we will just work harder, giving up on our relationships and hobbies. Many examples were given: 1. The domestic helper and nanny: rather dependent on the employer. Often new immigrants who have to leave their own kids at home to take care of those of the rich. Women who often do the unpaid household chores. 2. Teachers who have suffered under austerity and often pay ou This book says that we are told to love our job but our jobs won’t love us back. In other words, capitalists tell us that so that we will just work harder, giving up on our relationships and hobbies. Many examples were given: 1. The domestic helper and nanny: rather dependent on the employer. Often new immigrants who have to leave their own kids at home to take care of those of the rich. Women who often do the unpaid household chores. 2. Teachers who have suffered under austerity and often pay out of their own pocket to buy stationary for poor students. 3. F&B workers: last minute schedule change makes it impossible for them to plan their lives. 4. Interns: often doing essential work but unpaid. Promised potential ticket to full time job but only a few do. 5. Charity workers: often paid below market rates because they are supposed to do it out of altruism. However the executives are often earning huge bonuses. Donors on the other hand like to see majority of their donation going to the clients, but they forget people are needed to do the work, and they need to be paid properly. 6. Adjunct academics: Do most of the work but poorly paid and have no job security. The tenured professors get all the glory and paid vacation during school holidays. 7. College athletes who are considered students and not workers. So no salary and no compensation for injuries. Meanwhile they make lots of money for the capitalists. 8. Art workers: most earn peanuts while a few superstars ear a lot. 9. Game coders: extremely long hours, not expected to have any life outside work. The solution, often times, is to unionise. To group together and bargain as a group. Sometimes strikes are needed. Without that, capitalists can easily deal with individual workers one by one. This is a trend that is observed even in Google workers (at least those who are permanent temps or interns). For the special case of household chores, everyone should be paid to do it. So a basic income. The last part of the book states that communism is the only solution. That I must fully disagree. One only need to see what communism had brought us: suffering and economic hardship.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Candice Crutchfield

    “Capitalist society has transformed work into love, and love, conversely, into work.” Though these words appear toward the conclusion of the book, they are a great summary of chapters, highlighting the experiences of laborers in a number of industries including but not limited to: academics, retail, nonprofits, and even interns. Contrary to a number of reviews, I found the organization and flow of the book helpful in understanding and taking deep dives into real-life stories. Both halves come to “Capitalist society has transformed work into love, and love, conversely, into work.” Though these words appear toward the conclusion of the book, they are a great summary of chapters, highlighting the experiences of laborers in a number of industries including but not limited to: academics, retail, nonprofits, and even interns. Contrary to a number of reviews, I found the organization and flow of the book helpful in understanding and taking deep dives into real-life stories. Both halves come together to create a well researched book with interviews from folks across the spectrum of cultures, gender identity, and social class (more so than other books). What I loved most was the transition from discussing people’s labor experiences to the concept of love and the future of working while being held within the tight grip of capitalism. Maybe it’s because my personal research interests align with Jaffe or because I found myself highlighting and underlining nonstop as I worked through the chapters, but regardless, this to me, feels like an essential and timely read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    The GrownUp Millennial

    More like 3.5 stars. In this book Sarah talks about the rat race we find ourselves sin regardless of the work we do and how capitalism dictates our lives. She also spent quite a bit of time talking about labour unions. Generally, it was a bit of a wakeup call to the fact that the idea of "loving your job" was a concept created by capitalism to keep us working for less (for devotion instead of reward). More like 3.5 stars. In this book Sarah talks about the rat race we find ourselves sin regardless of the work we do and how capitalism dictates our lives. She also spent quite a bit of time talking about labour unions. Generally, it was a bit of a wakeup call to the fact that the idea of "loving your job" was a concept created by capitalism to keep us working for less (for devotion instead of reward).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zoltan Pogatsa

    Why the idea that if you love your job you will not have to work a day is mostly false. Why it is a trap to convince yourself that you love your job, if you don't. Plenty of examples, a very birght book. Why the idea that if you love your job you will not have to work a day is mostly false. Why it is a trap to convince yourself that you love your job, if you don't. Plenty of examples, a very birght book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chanele McFarlane

    *I received a free ARC of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was really intrigued by the premise of this book. As soon as I saw the title, I immediately wanted to read it, especially when we're living in a time when the pandemic has forced us to reflect on our relationship with work. The first bit was really interesting and I was quite intrigued. The book is incredibly well-researched and Sarah Jaffe is a good writer. However, I soon found that it became too dense and I los *I received a free ARC of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was really intrigued by the premise of this book. As soon as I saw the title, I immediately wanted to read it, especially when we're living in a time when the pandemic has forced us to reflect on our relationship with work. The first bit was really interesting and I was quite intrigued. The book is incredibly well-researched and Sarah Jaffe is a good writer. However, I soon found that it became too dense and I lost interest. I understand that she wanted to provide a thorough deep dive into the history of work to clearly pinpoint where we went wrong, but personally, I found it a bit much. I also have to say that I was expecting a bit more. Yes, we know work is horrible but I think I was expecting that there would be more of a focus on possible solutions. This book reminded me a lot of Can't Even by Anne Helen Peterson - which I also liked but had the same feedback - I wish there was more provided in terms of what we can do to fix things.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Pio

    I loved this. A comprehensive and compelling discussion of the history of labor across several professions in the time of neoliberalism. All this contextualized through the lens if critiquing capitalism, with attention paid to the role of patriarchy and the exploitation of the changing role of work, and how we've grown to conflate working for love with freedom and joy, and "hope labor." I loved this. A comprehensive and compelling discussion of the history of labor across several professions in the time of neoliberalism. All this contextualized through the lens if critiquing capitalism, with attention paid to the role of patriarchy and the exploitation of the changing role of work, and how we've grown to conflate working for love with freedom and joy, and "hope labor."

  22. 5 out of 5

    KKEC Reads

    Published: January 25, 2021 Bold Type Books I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Sarah Jaffe is a Type Media Center reporting fellow and an independent journalist covering the politics of power, from the workplace to the streets. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, the Guardian, the Washington Post, The New Republic, the Atlantic, and many other publications. She is the co-host, with Michelle Chen, of Dissent magazine’s Belabored podcast, and a colum Published: January 25, 2021 Bold Type Books I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Sarah Jaffe is a Type Media Center reporting fellow and an independent journalist covering the politics of power, from the workplace to the streets. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, the Guardian, the Washington Post, The New Republic, the Atlantic, and many other publications. She is the co-host, with Michelle Chen, of Dissent magazine’s Belabored podcast, and a columnist at The Progressive and New Labor Forum. “We’re supposed to work for the love of it, and how dare we ask questions about the way our work is making other people rich while we struggle to pay rent and barely see our friends.” This book was a lot deeper than I anticipated. When I applied for this book, I thought I was getting a book about how we have an impossible work-life balance and how many of us choose to work over home more than we should. Boy, was I wrong. There is so much information in this book. I had to read it in several sittings, and I read three books during this book. I had to break the facts up and give my brain a break. The facts and statistics in this book are eye-opening and terrifying. The first thing you are going to learn is that Sarah Jaffe is smart. Smart. She is knowledgeable, insightful, and driven. She has done her research. This is not a quick and easy read. This book is heavy. It’s deep. It’s dense. It is filled with facts and personal testimonials, and stories from those who have experienced things. This book is intense and brutally eye-opening. The way work is defined forever been changed for me. I will never find any job simple or basic. And I will forever think of the paths that lead to a specific position. This book breaks things down, by number, by race, by gender, by position in such a way that it made my brain hurt. I had no idea. This book will not only make you infinitely more aware of your privilege, but it will also make you smarter for knowing the journey it took to get to where we are today. This book stats straight up facts regarding how women are treated in the workforce—starting from the beginning. This book breaks down how women of color paved the way and fought for every bit of success they earned. This book is a must-read. We should all be informed. We should know these things, these statistics. We should know how work is truly defined, and we should recognize every aspect of work. This book was dense but so beautifully written. Sarah Jaffe did her homework, and she delivered her findings in such a powerful way. I learned so much from reading this book, and I feel like I am better for it. This book will be on my recommendation list for sure.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Arnab

    This is an intense, passionate and well-researched book. Unfortunately, the cover blurb, as well as the subtitle, are misleading in the extreme; this, I am sorry to say, is not a book about "How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted and Alone", much less about how these grievous conditions can be ameliorated. What this book really is, is a historical deep-dive into the struggles of Western progressives to form unions, fight for fair pay, and better working conditions across the boar This is an intense, passionate and well-researched book. Unfortunately, the cover blurb, as well as the subtitle, are misleading in the extreme; this, I am sorry to say, is not a book about "How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted and Alone", much less about how these grievous conditions can be ameliorated. What this book really is, is a historical deep-dive into the struggles of Western progressives to form unions, fight for fair pay, and better working conditions across the board. The author is undoubtedly a progressive herself, and her passionate arguments against capitalist exploitation and alienation shows through in every page. Given that perspective, I think either she, or the publishers, would have done well to subtitle the book "The Struggles of the Western Left to Fight for Labor Rights" instead. This book would have been better served by the change, as it belongs more naturally to the history shelves of bookshops and bookshelves, instead of self-help, which the title and subtitle misleadingly directs readers to. Recommended to those interested in the history of Western progressive labor unions. Not recommended to those looking for answers to their problems with work, or how to improve their lives at work.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steffi

    5/5. I guess the title is a little misleading, this is NOT one of those inspiring self-improvement books you usually find at airport bookstores on how you should work less to feel better. lol (Side note: If the aim of a book is to make you become a better person or feel better, it's rubbish and a royal waste of time. This applies in 100 per cent of all cases, no exception. There's no such thing as an individual!) So this book is still, broadly speaking, a Marxist analysis and critique of 'work' in 5/5. I guess the title is a little misleading, this is NOT one of those inspiring self-improvement books you usually find at airport bookstores on how you should work less to feel better. lol (Side note: If the aim of a book is to make you become a better person or feel better, it's rubbish and a royal waste of time. This applies in 100 per cent of all cases, no exception. There's no such thing as an individual!) So this book is still, broadly speaking, a Marxist analysis and critique of 'work' in late capitalism. It's an original contribution to the amazing body of work on gender and race in (post-Fordist) capitalism. So the concepts of exploitation and alienation remain key. Otherwise, it wouldn't have landed on my desk (technically in bed, as I only read in bed) ☭ Some take-aways: 1. I do have a crush on Sarah Jaffe. 2. The premise: as those of familiar with theories of late capitalism may know, ever since 'we' shipped off the shitty jobs to the - pardon me - third world, ‘we’ have been commanded to 'love work'. Service with a smile, devoted to the cause, working ourselves to death because it is 'sooo much more than just a job'. It's a family, a passion, a mission. You name it. “Capitalism must control our affections, our sexuality, our bodies in order to keep us separated from one another. The greatest trick it has been able to pull is to convince us that work is our greatest love”. 3. And if you are depressed, anxious, lonely and burned out, it's clearly your fault for not having found the work of your life or loving your work hard enough (hint: It's not you, it's capitalism). 4. (Obviously, there is also a need to look at those places to where the shitty jobs have been shipped off to, the sweatshops, Chinese factories, African industrial farms etc. while increasingly services are also being outsourced and relocated. Late capitalism doesn’t mean that shitty jobs have disappeared or have been automated, they have only disappeared from one part of the global to another. There are plenty of excellent books on this too.) 5. Now, this myth of 'labour of love' is the central work ethic in late capitalism (like there is a dominant work ethic for every stage of capitalism). And this ethic of ‘labour of love’ is what this book aims to dismantle for what it is: a neoliberal technique of exploitation. Obviously, this is not an entirely new discovery, especially not for those among us who have spent the past two decades obsessing over neoliberal techniques of power rather than starting grown-up lives 😊 but it does add a very original lens and deep dive from various sectors of the labour of love in the post global financial crisis period of ‘punitive neoliberalism’. 6. Speaking of originality. I absolutely love this style of ‘activist academic reporting’, what an intricate fabric of solid Marxist political economy and historical analysis, reporting, reflections from working people, and a call for action. I am the very last nerd to say that there’s not a place and time for very dry Marxist theories and abstract ‘academic’ debates but bringing it back to the real world and making this accessible without compromising on the political philosophy that underpins the theoretical framework like Sarah Jaffe is just perfection ❤ 7. The book starts off with an excellent introduction, with plenty of reading suggestions and rabbit holes to follow. Then follow chapters which each shed light on the historical context, and post global financial crisis state and struggles in each of the various industries and sectors of the 'labour of love' including domestic and care work, teaching, retail, nonprofits, creative industries and arts (eye opening chapter!), sports, academia, tech. 8. Zeroing in on the specific industries really highlights some of the broader dynamics on gender and capitalism. I have become quite interested in the more radical end of theories of reproductive labour in capitalism lately (Melinda Cooper wrote some great stuff on this), including, or especially, the critique of the nuclear family as an institution that’s integral to capitalism and that we need to get rid of alongside capitalism and imperialism 😊 This really cuts to the core of our understanding of solidarity and relationships of care beyond the nuclear family, whether straight or rainbow. 9. What's the answer? It's quite straightforward, actually. It's solidarity, real connection beyond the transactional. At the very, very dark heart of neoliberalism, lies the idea that we are all alone and competing in a totalizing market place of everything. From work to romance, everything has been commodified. As work has become love, love has become work. I guess it’s similar to Marx’s theories on the commodity and how social relations within capitalist society exist between commodities while social relations have become commodified (or so). The most potent antidote is to reject this process of atomization and, well, come together and organize. It’s what Bernie referred to when he said ‘fight for someone you don’t know’. What neoliberalism aimed at destroying was solidarity because that’s what always scared ‘the elites’ and only in a society where people are isolated in their struggles can a system that works to the detriment of the ’99 per cent’ flourish. When Thatcher said that ‘economics is the method but the object is the soul’, she meant it. 10. So, contrary to what self-help books make want people believe, the solution to our anxiety and feeling of inadequacy does not lie in becoming ‘more productive’ versions of ourselves, reading three books in ten minutes and increasing our ‘market value’ by adding yet another bullshit degree to our name (Harvard summer course in leadership, anyone? Lol) but in realizing that it’s our society that is sickening, a world that puts profits before people and the planet is the problem, not us. We share this shitty predicament and trying to compete against each other in this fucked up world is preventing us from realizing that, yes indeed, there are alternatives and we can collectively achieve change. We have seen a massive shift to the left (admittedly, also to the right), new movements and ideas that were too radical a few years ago (minimum wage, universal health care, basic income) becoming part of the mainstream political debate. A few years ago, it was easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. We have become so close to the end of the world, that it now seems for more and more – especially young people – possible to imagine the end of capitalism. 11. (Side note on the post covid pandemic world of work: we must resist the effort to use this new remote work as a means to further atomize us. While it's great to have some level of 'flexible working arrangements', let's be very, very critical of employers' push for greater 'flexibility and agility'. Thanks, but employees don't need greater ‘flexibility and agility’, workers need job security and protection from all forms of abuse. Employees sitting alone at home in front of their screens is a dystopian scenario. Employees need a physical space to be together and discuss what's happening at the workplace so they can develop a sense of collective and push back collectively or stand up for each other, including when contracts are becoming less secure for newly recruited colleagues. Workplace organizing formally and informally remains important and widespread remote working would be the final nail in the coffin of workplace solidarity. Outsourcing and flexible this or what may be useful for the bottom line, but we are not ‘labour costs’, we are human beings. Obviously, working from home has also further blurred the line between home and work which must be rejected. ‘We’ didn’t win historic struggles for the eight-hour working day to end up working in one way or another all day in the 21st century. The entire idea of increasing productivity and such was to reduce the amount of necessary work so we can do something else with our human potential, creative, cultural, social, love, or just enjoying ‘non-productive hobbies such as reading and watching reality TV dating shows 😊 ’Let’s not lose sight of this kind of fundamental question of what it mans to be a human being.) 12. The last (very, very awesome) chapter called “What is Love” starts with a quote which I can’t get out of my head as it sums up this neoliberal hell of work so perfectly “We want to call work what is work so that eventually we might rediscover what is love" <3

  25. 4 out of 5

    Viola

    888 - 8 hours work, 8 hours leisure, 8 hours sleep. first won for workers in 1856 by stone workers who walked off sites after 8 hours in Melbourne Australia. See https://www.8hourday.org.au/ 1886 Chicago USA strike for 8 hour day by migrant workers. THE VICTORIAN WORKING WEEK: A BRIEF HISTORY 48-hour week 1856: Building tradesmen win the eighthour day (six-day week) in Melbourne. 1873: The Victorian government grants women factory workers the eight-hour day. 1874: Victorian government contracts make th 888 - 8 hours work, 8 hours leisure, 8 hours sleep. first won for workers in 1856 by stone workers who walked off sites after 8 hours in Melbourne Australia. See https://www.8hourday.org.au/ 1886 Chicago USA strike for 8 hour day by migrant workers. THE VICTORIAN WORKING WEEK: A BRIEF HISTORY 48-hour week 1856: Building tradesmen win the eighthour day (six-day week) in Melbourne. 1873: The Victorian government grants women factory workers the eight-hour day. 1874: Victorian government contracts make the legal working day eight hours. 44-hour week 1920: The 44-hour week awarded to timber workers and engineers. 1939: The 44-hour week applied to all industries. 40-hour week 1948: Introduction of the five-day, 40-hour week for all workers. 38-hour week 1981: Metal industry gains 38-hour week, which then become the national standard. 36-hour week 2003: Adoption of rostered days off creates 36-hour week for the building industry. https://www.smh.com.au/business/small... +++++++++++++ Whatever happened to the 8 hour day ? - Anne Feeney. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-0... Former Huawei employee speaks out on Shenzhen's '996' culture as Chinese city enforces paid leave By Bang Xiao A wideshot of a man standing on his balcony at home. Zeng Meng says Huawei employees were asked to sign a contract stating they accept working overtime voluntarily.(Supplied) For five years, former Huawei employee Zeng Meng embraced China's infamous "996" culture of working from 9:00am to 9:00pm, six days a week. Key points: Shenzhen becomes the first Chinese city to mandate that workers in "special industries" take paid leave Those industries will now also be required to pay overtime or give extra annual leave days But experts fear the new policy may not change the overwork culture in the tech hub Mr Zeng, a power engineer, was employed by the Chinese telecoms giant as a product manager in Shenzhen in 2012, after working for several other major technology companies in the south-eastern city widely regarded as China's Silicon Valley. The job quickly "took over" his personal life — he had no time for his family, leisure or even sleep. He said he lost interest in everything except work. Mr Zeng's situation was not uncommon. The 996 culture is prevalent in Shenzhen, where China's technology and innovation hub is separated by just a river from Hong Kong. "I had no time for recreation. Basically all I did was keep working mindlessly," Mr Zeng, who left the company more than three years ago, told the ABC. "Often, we were still in meetings until 11:00pm." However, Shenzhen yesterday became the first Chinese city to mandate that workers in "special industries" take paid leave, so that those "with a heavy mental and physical workload can avoid excessive burnout," according to regulations approved in October. Chinese employees who have worked up to 10 years with the same company are usually entitled to five days of annual leave, although they also have 11 days of paid public holiday leave. Under the new mandate, workers in the unspecified industries will be eligible for extra annual leave if they regularly work longer hours or need to be paid overtime for the occasional long days. The regulation was drafted in the same month Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the city to create another "miracle" in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the city's transformation — from a fishing village to China's first special economic zone. The topic has prompted heated debate on social media, with many employees of China's top tech companies expressing mixed views on how the new regulations could impact their long and stressful working hours. '996 working, ICU waiting' A close-up of Alibaba Group co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma's face. Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba Group, once said working 12 hours a day for the company was a "blessing". (Reuters: Valery Sharifulin/TASS) The 996 work culture was first majorly called out in 2019 by some Chinese programmers who regularly worked overtime and up to 72 hours a week in Shenzhen's technology hub. The term "996" went viral after it was backed by tech giant bosses including Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, which led to widespread discussions on the impact of the work culture on employees' health and personal lives. "996 working, ICU waiting" was one phrase that gained popularity online. Mr Zeng said every Huawei employee was asked to sign a contract known as a "struggle agreement", stating they "accept overtime work voluntarily without claiming overtime pay, and forgo paid annual leave". The ABC has seen a copy of the struggle agreement, which has also been widely published by Chinese media. "The agreement has become a beautiful term for endless exploitation, saying you have to have a fighting spirit," he said. "You signed it because everyone else had. "If you don't do it, you can't survive in the company." A man standing near a window at home Mr Zeng is now living in his hometown Chongqing, while waiting for the result of his lawsuit with Huawei. (Supplied) As more companies in Shenzhen replicated Huawei's agreement, Mr Zeng said it led to benefits for companies at the expense of people's personal lives. "You can feel it when you talk to colleagues. It is common that everyone feels their mood has become more irritable," Mr Zeng said. "Imagine you have been endlessly pushed to hurry up and you have to do the same to others, everyone is so overwhelmed." 'Marriage KPI' Alibaba founder Jack Ma encourages couples to have sex six times in six days — as well as work 12-hour days, six days a week — in order to "work happily and live seriously". Jimmy Jin, a former employee at a technology company in Shenzhen, told the ABC many people did not want to challenge the system because they believed their sacrifices would be rewarded with better opportunities. "Work has penetrated into every layer of my life," said Ms Jin, who is in her late 20s. "I had nothing to do except work. That's why I spent extra time working from home after leaving the office. "I had to see a psychologist and take medications to solve issues [related to] my mood." Why the new policy may not change the overwork culture General cityscape of Shenzhen, including the 100-floor tower Kingkey. The 996 culture breached many labour laws in China, including the law on extending working hours, experts say.(Reuters: Bobby Yip) Aiden Chau, a researcher from Hong Kong–based China Labour Bulletin, which tracks labour movements in China, told the ABC that Shenzhen had always been a testing ground for capitalistic ideas in China, but it was too early to say if the new policy could solve the overwork issue. Mr Chau said the new regulation did not specify what those "special industries" were, so it might not apply for everyone in the city. "For now, it's difficult to say whether the 996 working hours are related to this proposal," Mr Chau said. "[The regulation provides] … a lot of room to manoeuvre." Mr Chau said the 996 culture breached many labour laws in China, including the law on extending working hours, the law on overtime payment and the law on penalties when breaking these laws. But due to the economic benefits generated by the system, Beijing chose to turn a blind eye to it, he said. "The minimum working hours under 996 is 72 hours. The standard working hours in China is 40 hours," he said. "So basically Chinese tech workers are working an extra half-year for the boss under 996." The 996 culture has become a systemic issue A man using computer at home Mr Zeng says some people work 996 because they believe they have to in order to stay at the company.(Supplied) Mr Zeng does not believe the overwork problem can be solved either. He used his personal experience to explain his rationale, including how China's media censorship has helped to cover up issues in companies like Huawei. More than three years ago, Mr Zeng's contract was terminated by Huawei weeks before he would become eligible to be a permanent employee. His overtime, annual leave and year-end bonus were not paid in the severance package he received, so he decided to sue Huawei. Court documents viewed by the ABC showed the court ruled Huawei had to pay Mr Zeng 15,000 yuan ($3,000) for some of his overtime. Huawei unsuccessfully appealed against the verdict. Eighteen months later, Mr Zeng said he was surrounded by two Chinese police officers from Shenzhen while he was on holiday in Thailand, having dinner with his father. He was wanted on suspicion of violating trade secrets, and was then extradited to China and arrested for 90 days, without being able to have a lawyer. Mr Zeng said he refused to bow to pressures from the police, and his charge changed from violating trade secrets to fraud, before he was released on bail in March 2019. He tried to seek help from media outlets in China to tell his story, but he was told many times it was not possible to publish "a negative story" about Huawei. Mr Zeng is now living in his hometown Chongqing, while waiting for the result of his lawsuit with Huawei. He said many people in Shenzhen believe the 996 culture has become a systematic issue violating workers' rights, but the "rocket-high prices of properties" and "peer pressure" in the city left them without a choice. "The irony is, in Huawei, some colleagues had been asking to make the 996 work schedule mandatory," he said. "It would be a blessing if we could go home at 9:00pm, which we rarely could." (The ABC has approached Huawei and the Shenzhen Government for comment.)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Craig Millar

    A lot of Marxist nonsense from s bitter woman. And, like Marx, very poorly researched. 'In all labour there is profit' and 'the hand of the diligent shall prosper'. is all you need to know about work, the work ethic, and success. A lot of Marxist nonsense from s bitter woman. And, like Marx, very poorly researched. 'In all labour there is profit' and 'the hand of the diligent shall prosper'. is all you need to know about work, the work ethic, and success.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Colin Cox

    Sarah Jaffe's Work Won't Love You Back attempts to theorize our contemporary commitment not just to work but to a particular expression and understanding of work in a neoliberal, last-capitalist context. Today, capitalist ideology takes an additional step in its fetishism of work: it argues that if we fail to love what we do, then, as Jaffe writes, "it becomes another form of individual shame" (9). This means neoliberal capitalism's commitment to work has nothing to do with some antiquated, Puri Sarah Jaffe's Work Won't Love You Back attempts to theorize our contemporary commitment not just to work but to a particular expression and understanding of work in a neoliberal, last-capitalist context. Today, capitalist ideology takes an additional step in its fetishism of work: it argues that if we fail to love what we do, then, as Jaffe writes, "it becomes another form of individual shame" (9). This means neoliberal capitalism's commitment to work has nothing to do with some antiquated, Puritanical valuing of work as an expression of morality, instead, this injunction further atomizes the worker. It prevents the worker from seeing their struggle, and for too many workers, their failure, as potentially preventable if collective action occurred. By suggesting that both success and failure lie at the feet of the individual, the capitalist system ensures its survival. What Jaffe adds to this formulation, something teachers, for example, have known for some time, is the way love operates as a supplement for the myriads of inequalities and indignities that define work in a late-capitalist system. In her chapter on female labor in the nuclear home, Jaffe writes, "Our willingness to accede that women's work is love, and that love is its own reward, not to be sullied with money, creates profits for capitalism. None of this is natural. The family itself was and is a social, economic, and political institution" (26). While Jaffe wants to argue that these ways of thinking about work as a "labor of love" in place of, for example, fair wages and collective representation, affect everyone, she is adamant that this notion disproportionately affects women, black and brown women, and low-income women the most because our current economic system works in tandem with patriarchal forms of exploitation. This intersectional approach to the problem of work fits within the feminist tradition best exemplified by writers like Audrey Lorde and Angela Davis. In short, if we want to understand better the problems inherent to work in a late-capitalist system, we must think beyond just work itself; we must reckon with the forms of sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, and ageism that inform and sustain "the system." So what then does Jaffe suggest as a solution to this problem? Like many books of this ilk, Work Won't Love You Back is far more interesting in diagnosing the problem than providing solutions to the problem. With that said, Jaffe offers some suggestions. First, we must not forget just how cruel capitalism is. Jaffe writes, "The exposure of capitalism's cruelty makes the command to love our jobs a brutal joke" (320). Jaffe also suggests practical solutions, such as a reduction in work time. Doing so provides workers with more time; time to think, time to create, and time to live. But the best solution Jaffe offers is to commit oneself's to the idea that work for far too many people, just sucks. Saying and thinking that work sucks is not an expression of laziness or a desire to have "the welfare state" pay for everything. Instead, saying and thinking that work sucks is a political position because, for far too many people mired in the exploitative throes of late-capitalism, work does, in fact, suck. That, regrettably, is by design, and when exploitation operates as part of a system, then saying so is, without question, a political act.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Raisa

    This book has a very clear thesis, especially in the first half - it attempts to dismantle the idea of the 'labour of love' - that is, the cliche that doing what you love means you won't work a day in your life. The author examines unpaid care work and domestic work but also non-profits, teaching and retail, looking at how workers in these professions are portrayed as being in pursuit of some higher calling - and revealing how this emphasis on love and care is also used to exploit those who foll This book has a very clear thesis, especially in the first half - it attempts to dismantle the idea of the 'labour of love' - that is, the cliche that doing what you love means you won't work a day in your life. The author examines unpaid care work and domestic work but also non-profits, teaching and retail, looking at how workers in these professions are portrayed as being in pursuit of some higher calling - and revealing how this emphasis on love and care is also used to exploit those who follow these professions. Although it's written for an American audience, there are parts of it which resonate outside the US as well - and the author does talk about how immigrants are often exploited in fields like domestic work or home care, and how more companies are outsourcing work to countries in the Global South in order to cut costs. As many have pointed out, this book is also an indictment of the capitalist system, showing that the values it has created are entirely skewed and don't serve the workers. The author also brings a feminist perspective to the question she's unpacking. Every chapter highlights how gender roles have played a role in exploitation - be it the domestic worker who is 'part of the family', the teacher who shepherds their students into adulthood, to the 'boy king' tech worker, eternally nineteen, surrounded by toys to distract him from the realisation that he's been at work for 12 hours or more. There's been some criticism of this book noting that all the chapters follow what becomes a predictable pattern. It begins with one case study, zooms out to look at the historical aspect of how workers in these professions came to be exploited, then follows their attempts to organise. There's also criticism that the second half of the book isn't as strong as the first half, maybe because by the author's own admission, she's not as conversant in the fields of art or sports, maybe simply because the thesis has become clear and the story as it plays out, predictable. Many have also pointed out that this book doesn't offer much by way of solutions, other than organising and some stirring paragraphs on shifting priorities to focus on life (and the pursuit of pleasure) outside of work. While all of this criticism does have some merit, I found the historical parts of this book particularly interesting and eye-opening and, as a workaholic it left a lot of food for thought.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    Because of the subtitle of this book ("how devotion to out jobs keeps us exploited, exhausted and alone") I thought that the text would focus on work dynamics at a microlevel (the psychology of individual relationships based on exploitation in an organization). Instead, the book focuses on the issue more on a macrolevel (social and historical). In this way the book becomes a text on the history of work and also the history of racism, chauvinism and unionizing. The format of the book is that there Because of the subtitle of this book ("how devotion to out jobs keeps us exploited, exhausted and alone") I thought that the text would focus on work dynamics at a microlevel (the psychology of individual relationships based on exploitation in an organization). Instead, the book focuses on the issue more on a macrolevel (social and historical). In this way the book becomes a text on the history of work and also the history of racism, chauvinism and unionizing. The format of the book is that there are a few selected work categories for which the author gives us an example of a person that has been forced to love their work and then a history of protests and unions for that work category. Also, the history lesson is very up to date so it includes (for 2021) current issues like George Floyds murder and the covid-19 pandemic. This is an important text for sure, its just that, for me personally, a history lesson is not what I was after and made it less of a fun read than I was hoping for; I was more hoping to read about the psychology of exploitation, not the history of exploitation. (I guess its my bad for jumping into the text after only reading the title and not the synopsis). Another disappointment was that there was no chapter about health-care workers which I find very surprising since health-care is one of the work categories most associated with love and caring. Instead there is a chapter on being a single mother which I dont really understand because, even if being a mother is a job, it is still always a job one choses to do whereas other jobs are always a necessity in order to survive. The author explains at the end of the book that she would have wanted to include other workers, not just health-care workers, but even lawyers, social workers and hairdressers, but that there was just not enough space in the book for everyone. My favorite chapter was the one about interns and I guess this is partly because its closer to home for me but also because it is a more recent form of exploitation so the history part of this chapter was not as long and boring as in the other chapters. Not a bad read, just it feels more like something I would read for a social history lesson instead of something I want to read for fun, in my precious free time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

    WORK WON’T LOVE YOU BACK is an examination of how work has transitioned from something you do for a paycheck into something that needs to define your life - and why that’s not necessarily a good thing. Jaffe isn’t arguing that one shouldn’t find joy or fulfillment from their career. Her primary concern is how this narrative (“do what you love”) is used to exploit workers in different jobs and industries, ranging from domestic workers and non-profit employees to academia and college athletes. In t WORK WON’T LOVE YOU BACK is an examination of how work has transitioned from something you do for a paycheck into something that needs to define your life - and why that’s not necessarily a good thing. Jaffe isn’t arguing that one shouldn’t find joy or fulfillment from their career. Her primary concern is how this narrative (“do what you love”) is used to exploit workers in different jobs and industries, ranging from domestic workers and non-profit employees to academia and college athletes. In today’s age of low wages and burnout, employees are expected to remain positive - often quite literally in the case of service workers - because at least they have a job. However, as soon as workers express their concerns, our society is quick to dismiss their claims. Teachers protesting increased class sizes aren’t being practical, they’re being greedy; they should be doing their job out of love, not because they need a roof over their heads. Tech workers walking out over long hours and harassment are just whiny, college-educated brats. They already make more money than the average American, so what gives them the ‘right’ to complain? Through a combination of contemporary anecdotes, historical context, and data points, Jaffe shows not only why this current thinking is harmful but provides short case studies of how people are fighting back to change this. Jaffe’s background as a labor journalist means her writing is approachable and bite-sized - you get just enough information in each chapter without feeling overwhelmed. This is a great read for anyone who wants to feel validated about their terrible work experiences and needs some inspiration to challenge those systems.

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