Blog

News

Debunking the Myths of Modern Work at Tribune

Airelle Perrouin reviewed Work Won’t Love You Back alongside Amelia Horgan’s excellent Lost in Work for Tribune magazine. She writes:

People everywhere are challenging the narratives that characterise work as a route out of poverty, or to self-actualisation, because for most, neither holds true: in modern Britain, hard work simply does not guarantee a life of dignity, or safety, or fulfilment. A widely circulated meme captures a shift in attitudes, particularly among the young: ‘Darling I don’t have a dream job, I don’t dream of labour.’ In the current context, this can be read as an indictment of the myths of work as much as work itself: we might dream more of labour, for example, had that dreaming not been made into an act of labour itself – or were the current conditions of labour not so bleak. But how long will this shift last – and how far will it go?

Any solution to existing problems must be on a much larger, more radical scale than anything previously imagined. While Work Won’t Love You Back and Lost in Work provide accessible histories of capitalism and deconstruct the mythos of modern work, they ultimately remain focused on the future: Jaffe and Horgan never lose sight of who and what they’re fighting for – and despite plenty of righteous anger, both books are, ultimately, beacons of hope. As Horgan puts it, ‘We can’t get our lives back without radically changing the very foundation of society.’

Read the whole thing at Tribune
News

What Does It Even Mean To Be ‘Burnt Out’ These Days? at Refinery29

I spoke with Daisy Schofield for Refinery29 for a story on the ubiquity of “burnout” and what gets missed in those discussions. She writes:

People may also be more likely to say they are experiencing burnout because the term can be worn as a badge of honour. As Sarah Jaffe, author of Work Won’t Love You Back, writes: “We’re supposed to value ‘busy’ and ‘productive’, and capital has always valued these things. Bosses want us to work as much as and as hard as we possibly can. The expectation that we’ve internalised this as employees, rather than as bosses, is a relatively new thing.”Sarah says this idea that we should prize productivity above all else marks a shift away from the industrial model – such as work in the coal mines – where employment was seen as more adversarial. In today’s hustle culture, “being super busy is somehow a sign that we have status, when usually, it’s just a sign that we don’t get paid enough.” The term ‘burnout’, Sarah argues, has become inextricably bound up with this idea that we should love our jobs. As she puts it: “Burnout becomes the space between being told that you should love your job and the reality that your job still sucks.”Do we need a new language to talk about burnout, or one that more explicitly deglorifies overwork, such as ‘toxic productivity‘? Sarah is unconvinced. “Literally, productivity is killing us, as individuals and the planet. So there’s sort of no ‘non-toxic’ productivity,” she says. While terms such as burnout have become “vacated of meaning … their origins were really powerful,” Sarah notes. “I think it’s useful to drill down into where terms [like burnout] come from, because often, it tells us a lot about what’s actuallygoing on and what we’re actually dealing with.” 

Read the whole thing at Refinery29