We are delighted to host Sarah Jaffe, the author of the new book, Work Won’t Love You Back: How Our Devotion to Our Work Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone (2021). Sarah’s book talks about academics (“Proletarian Professionals”) as one among many groups of laborers in fields that include art, sports, non-profits, teaching, domestic work and more, that try to make laborers substitute “love” for adequate compensation. Sarah brilliantly and energetically breaks down just how, if the neoliberal turn hinges on choice and freedom, then the apparatus for choice is an apparatus for blame. And, as labor conditions got worse, the more you are supposed to perform your “love” for the job. About the academy specifically she observes that just as white women and people of color are scratching their way in, the conditions collapse and a rhetoric of self-sacrifice, austerity and martyrdom is supposed to prevail. Drawing inspiration from Ettarh’s concept of “vocational awe” (2018), Karen and Sarah* talk about resisting the coercive nature of uncompensated and unsafe (in the pandemic) work, and how to improve these conditions by replacing individual competition with an investment in our wider community.
*Kel was down for the count after vaccine dose #2