A deeply-reported examination of why “doing what you love” is a recipe for exploitation, creating a new tyranny of work in which we cheerily acquiesce to doing jobs that take over our lives.
You’re told that if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Whether it’s working for “exposure” and “experience,” or enduring poor treatment in the name of “being part of the family,” all employees are pushed to make sacrifices for the privilege of being able to do what we love.
In Work Won’t Love You Back, Sarah Jaffe, a preeminent voice on labor, inequality, and social movements, examines this “labor of love” myth — the idea that certain work is not really work, and therefore should be done out of passion instead of pay. Told through the lives and experiences of workers in various industries — from the unpaid intern, to the overworked teacher, to the nonprofit worker and even the professional athlete — Jaffe reveals how all of us have been tricked into buying into a new tyranny of work.
As Jaffe argues, understanding the trap of the labor of love will empower us to work less and demand what our work is worth. And once freed from those binds, we can finally figure out what actually gives us joy, pleasure, and satisfaction.
Sarah Jaffe is a Type Media Center fellow and an independent journalist covering labor, economic justice, social movements, politics, gender, and pop culture. Jaffe is the author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and many others. She is the co-host, with Michelle Chen, of Dissent magazine’s Belabored podcast, as well as a columnist at the New Republic and New Labor Forum. Jaffe was formerly a staff writer at In These Times and the labor editor at AlterNet. She was also the web director at GRITtv with Laura Flanders. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Temple University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Loyola University New Orleans. She lives in Philadelphia.