Do We Want to Eat the Rich, or Dress Like Them? at Elle

Véronique Hyland interviewed me again for Elle, this time about the resurgence of so-called “old money” style, or “stealth wealth” or any number of terms that seem at odds with our current political moment. She writes:

It seems we’ve traded one unrealistic fantasy—hustle culture—for another, namely, an inherited life of leisure. The current longing seems to be for “conspicuous consumption that’s somehow not tacky,” says Sarah Jaffe, the author of Work Won’t Love You BackShe sums up the appeal of the coastal grandmother as “effortless wealth that comes from asset ownership.” The same seductive fantasy could apply to stealth wealth, quiet luxury, old money, and preppy style—slippery, not-quite-synonymous terms that have one thing in common: they reify both subtlety and ease.


Now that wealth is, as Jaffe says, “more inaccessible than ever” for most, “people have started realizing that work doesn’t pay.” She sums up the mood as: “I’ve still got to hustle for everything. And it’s never going to shake out unless somehow I have access to family money.” Old money style offers a fantasy of permanence in a world where more and more things are disposable, temporary, or just off-limits. Even the fascination with coastal grandmother figures like Martha Stewart and Ina Garten feels like “an admission of the fact that we’re never going to be able to retire.”

Read the whole thing at Elle

Why Is Assessing Job Satisfaction So Hard? at the New York Times

Alina Tugend at the NYT interviewed me for a story on job satisfaction, and I got to be the voice of dissent against “job satisfaction assessments” as a whole. She writes:

For Sarah Jaffe, the author of “Work Won’t Love You Back,” there’s a broader factor undermining trust. Surveys too often are little more than window dressing for companies that profess to care about workers’ happiness, but they fail to provide “basic needs, such as decent wage and autonomy on the job,” she said.

“Not feeling like your boss is spying on you all day,” she added. “Flexible scheduling and basic respect for you as a human being.”

Read the whole thing at the New York Times.

10 films to stream on Netflix in March 2022 (bear with me here, I swear it’s relevant)

An interesting little plug for WWLYB in the A.V. Club, where Katie Rife is considering her time at work in the last slide of an otherwise inane clickbait slideshow. She writes:

If you told me two years ago that my last published piece for The A.V. Club would be a slideshow, I’d say, “We don’t do slideshows. Readers don’t like them.” How things change. But it’s been a weird, wonderful ride nevertheless.

I’m really not inclined to get too maudlin, given the way things have played out over the past couple of months. But I will say this. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the current movement to reframe work, and the perils of tying your self-image to your career the way that I have over the past seven years. (If you’re also in a period of soul searching, I recommend reading Work Won’t Love You Back by Sarah Jaffe.)

Read the whole thing here

Top 10 books about terrible jobs

Lara Williams at the Guardian included Work Won’t Love You Back on a fun list of books–fiction and nonfiction–about work sucking. She included mine and Amelia Horgan’s Lost in Work together (a happy connection), and writes:

7. Work Won’t Love You Back by Sarah Jaffe and Lost in Work by Amelia Horgan
Two absolutely essential non-fiction books which interrogate modern narratives surrounding work. Featuring an array of case studies from all walks of life, Work Won’t Love You Back examines the myth that work should be done for love not money, and questions the lack of validity or compensation afforded particular kinds of work (domestic labour, art). Lost in Work queries a different myth about work: that we all have access to flexible, exciting and fast-paced employment, when what is really happening is a blurring of the lines between work and pleasure (“leisure treated as something we should make profitable; each hobby a potential ‘side gig’.”).

Read the whole thing here.

«Il lavoro non ti ama? Non devi (per forza) lasciarlo» Interview at Corriere Della Sera

Irene Soave interviewed me for Corriere Della Sera, in Italy. Through the Google Translate machine, she writes:

Is contemporary discontent more of a material nature – contracts, salaries – or emotional? Disappointed expectations, success that never comes…
«I don’t think the two spheres are separate. If we show that we don’t like work, for example, and this is an emotional fact, we risk losing it, and this is a very material fact. Perhaps it makes us feel like failures that we are more unresolved than our parents; but it is also due to our lower salaries. And finally, the expectations of success are inculcated in us from the cradle, but the material conditions do not always exist. So the first reaction we have, if we’re burnt out, is to think we’re not good enough.”

Read the whole thing (in Italian!) here.