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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
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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.
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«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.
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Fashion for the ‘Lean Out’ Era

Veronique Hyland interviewed me about the season’s take on wild workwear, and what it says about how women feel about work these days, for Elle‘s October issue. She writes:

It’s more likely that most of these pieces will never find their way into fluorescent-lit cubicles, if only because of their quality of high camp. “The suit has always been drag,” Jaffe says. It’s a classic garment, one that “changes to a degree that it doesn’t at the same time, and men are always safe in it. As long as they’re wearing a suit, it can be a really bad ill-fitting Donald Trump suit, but they’re still powerful, right?” she says. “Whereas there’s a lot more pressure on women in terms of what we’re supposed to wear. Because you have so many more options, there are so many more ways to be wrong.” So while people might not necessarily be taking to the water cooler in pinstriped minis and suit jackets-turned-tube tops anytime soon, the club is another story. If anything, these aren’t clothes for labor; they’re clothes about labor, our way of grappling with a world where stability and certainty have ebbed. “The romance of work is never perfect,” as Jaffe puts it. “It’s always got cracks in it, and there are so many ways that comes out in the culture.”

Read the whole thing at Elle
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“Labor Without Love” at The Nation

Alyssa Battistoni wrote a long, thoughtful essay for The Nation about Work Won’t Love You Back, Aaron Benanav’s Automation and the Future of Work, the Great Resignation, and capitalist stagnation. She writes:

Jaffe’s vision of post-work politics is more clearly rooted in her descriptions of how workers are organizing today, and she places more faith in the potential of their agency to remake the world. Utopia is present in her writing too, but it emerges concretely, when people act together in ways that challenge the structures of daily life. These moments of possibility can appear in unexpected places. Although they are often associated with autonomous movements like Occupy Wall Street that explicitly seek to disrupt the rhythms of everyday life, Jaffe points out that they also appear in more “organized” forms of action, like teachers’ strikes. We can even generate such moments when we imagine our lives otherwise: “What would you do with your time if you didn’t have to work?” she likes to ask. Such utopian moments won’t abolish capitalism, Jaffe acknowledges. But the projects that generate them give us a glimpse of alternatives and, most important, create the kinds of bonds among people that can drive struggles forward. Political power can only emerge, partially and unevenly, out of actual experiences and relationships—the kinds of relationships of solidarity and, yes, love, that organizing can create and sustain.

Read the whole thing at The Nation
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“Work Will Never Love Us Back. But Other People Will” at GetAbstract

Gundula Stoll interviewed me about Work Won’t Love You Back at GetAbstract. She writes:

Jaffe doesn’t believe that there’s anything to romanticize about the toils of the industrial age. But she’s convinced that the labor of love is a con. In her book she chronicles in fascinating detail how one form of exploitation transformed into another, fleshing out the history of active labor struggle and its radical, inspiring thinkers. But her focus is on the people in the service, creative and teaching industries who were forced into the labor-of-love trap and managed to break free from it through organizing, unionizing and the love of their fellow human beings.

Read the rest at GetAbstract
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Love’s Labor, Lost and Found: Academia, “Quit Lit,” and the Great Resignation, a review at Los Angeles Review of Books

Lukas Moe includes Work Won’t Love You Back in his piece on academic “Quit Lit.” He writes:

Miserable protagonists and narrators are fashionable, but there is no frisson of autofiction in quit lit. What happens instead is slow and wrenching and sad.

For this, Jaffe’s book is a tonic. Jaffe’s style is that of someone who spends time with working people: curious about their particular experiences doing a job, fluent in the historical causes of that job’s depredations of self-worth, but impatient with overly fine distinctions. Work sucks, as we used to say, and we should learn how to say it again. The sectoral logic of the book’s chapters, ranging from home-care nurses to software engineers, insists that collective action is key to the possibility of good enough work. Instead of wringing hands about the death of the academic idyll, for example, what if we focused more on the overlaps between academic and service work, its survival strategies as well as its traps?

Read the whole thing at the LARB.
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It’s Not Going to Work Out: a review at Lux

Rithika Ramamurthy reviewed Work Won’t Love You Back and Amelia Horgan’s Lost in Work at Lux. She writes:

Anti-work writing is at its best when it inspires us to fight for a future that we can control and to organize towards that vision in the present. Without this double-pronged strategy, we will be left with short-term solutions and long-term immiseration. Jaffe and Horgan understand this, as they both insist that the only way forward is to organize the overworked sectors that do the difficult work of sustaining society. Their attention to care work in particular, and the feminized quality of the majority of modern work, is precisely what allows them to be clear-eyed about the capitalist tendency to turn even social reproduction into exploitable activity. Horgan’s proposed method of escaping capitalism is a “powerful and reinvigorated trade union movement,” while Jaffe declares that beyond stronger labor laws and workplace improvements, we need a “political understanding that our lives are ours to do with what we will.”

Read the whole thing at Lux.
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11 Excellent Work-Life Balance Books at Bookriot

Work Won’t Love You Back is one of 11 work-life balance books at Bookriot. They write:

Listen. That old “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” saying is baloney. It’s why many of us are feeling burned out and exploited. Your work is not your family. Exposure doesn’t pay the bills. Sarah Jaffe eviscerates the notion of your job being “a labor of love,” or being driven by passion rather than pay. Work Won’t Love You Back is the book we all need in our lives if we want any semblance of a work–life balance.

Read the whole thing at Bookriot.
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Your Unconditional Devotion To Work Is Killing Your Relationship at HuffPost UK

Faima Bakar at HuffPost UK interviewed me about Work Won’t Love You Back for a piece at HuffPost UK about why work is bad for our love lives, just in time for V-Day.

Jaffe explains that without social solidarity, we feel alone and powerless, which is apt in keeping us working and feeding the capitalist regime.

So what can you do? After all, most people need to work. That answer lies in our collective demand, says Jaffe.

“If you as an individual say ‘I’m not going to answer my boss’s emails on Friday night because I have a date’ or if you’re an Uber driver or a zero-hours contract employee and you just say ‘Friday nights, I’m not going to turn the app on’ well, you’re taking money off the table.

“So it’s not as simple as saying ‘have better personal boundaries’. It’s actually a thing we have to deal with collectively and politically so we have a much better handle on better work life boundaries. If you were in a union and you and your co-workers together, stand up and say we are not going to answer emails after 8pm on a work night or, whatever those boundaries might be, then that collective action can win you better boundaries.

“And that is part of the reason that it’s important to disrupt not only our own devotion to work but those of everyone around us, because it won’t work if we just do it individually.”

Read the whole thing at HuffPost