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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 "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.
About the Author
Sarah Jaffe is a Type Media Center Fellow and an independent journalist covering the politics of power, from the workplace to the streets. She is the author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Nation, The Guardian, the Washington Post, The New Republic, The American Prospect and many other publications. She is the cohost, with Michelle Chen, of Dissent magazine's Belabored podcast, as well as a columnist at The Progressive and New Labor Forum.
“By pulling apart the myth that work is love, Jaffe shows us that we can reimagine futures built on care, rather than exploitation.”
—Naomi Klein, author of On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal
"Jaffe’s committed, on-the-ground engagement, historical range, and ferocious gathering of revolutionary thought combines to create something genuine and profound. . . . This book is a gift to its reader, and to a possible future."
—Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox
“Marvelously lucid, thoroughly readable, and wonderfully engaging.”
—Kathi Weeks, author of The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries
“Sarah Jaffe’s years as a labor reporter have let her see frontlines where others have failed to look. A book of rare importance.”
—Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System
“A multiplex in still life; a stunning critique of capitalism, a collective conversation on the meaning of life and work, and a discerning contribution to the demands of the future society everyone deserves.”
—Jane McAlevey, author of A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy
"A much-needed intervention into a bad relation: our employment. Neoliberalism is collapsing, and you’ll find no better guide to help sift through the wreckage than this book."
—Greg Grandin, C. Vann Woodward Professor of History, Yale University
“A dazzling takedown of the myth of working for love, and a call to arms for workers to invest their love and solidarity not in their jobs but in each other.”
—Molly Crabapple, artist and author of Drawing Blood and coauthor of Brothers of the Gun
“An indispensable addition to labor journalism, labor history, and much more broadly, our understanding of what resistance looks like—and could look like—in these difficult times.”
—Dave Zirin, author of A People¿s History of Sports in the United States
“Sassy and big-hearted, learned and astute. …A stunning achievement."
—Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Work Won't Love You Back has caused me to rethink my entire relationship to how I work and live. Read it and it will change you too.”
—David Dayen, author of Chain of Title and Monopolized