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

Bold Type Books. Jan. 2021. 432p. ISBN 9781568589398. $28. SOC SCI
In this latest work, journalist Jaffe (Necessary Trouble) offers a searing indictment of the way employers leverage the language of love to undermine workers’ ability to organize for better working conditions. Focusing on the carework and creative sectors broadly construed, Jaffe explores how, over the last half century, workers have fought for more authenticity in the workplace only to be faced with “demands to love their jobs,” often at the expense of nonwork life. Each of the book’s ten thematic chapters focuses on a specific type of care or creative work—such as childcare, customer service, teaching, professional sports, video game development—through the lives of individual workers, often those who have politicized their experiences and organized for change. The first five chapters focus on domestic labor and carework: the unpaid and underpaid jobs that “make all other work possible.” The second half of the book considers how getting paid to “do what you love” in creative and knowledge sectors is often a recipe for exploitation.
VERDICT As many of us rethink the power dynamics that shape our jobs and workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaffe’s passionate call to reimagine our relationships with work and one another, and imagine new possibilities, is indispensable reading.
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