Posts Tagged: work
Self-help books, like diet books, are ever-popular. But, according to Louis Menand at the New Yorker, they aren’t necessarily making us better human beings—just workers who better fit current business practices:
It’s not surprising that every era has a different human model to suit a different theory of productivity, but it is mildly disheartening to realize how readily we import these models into our daily lives.
The arts don’t pay very well, and working as a professional in a creative field like writing, music, or film has grown more precarious. High student debt doesn’t help, but it might explain why almost a quarter of arts graduates end up in business management....more
Writing may be hard work, but it isn’t the kind that pays the bills. Tillie Olsen’s seminal Silences wonders just what kind of work writing really is, and who has the privilege to do it:
Though access to education has improved for women and for members of the working class (categories that intersect) the lessons of “Silences” still resonate.
Superficially, [“do what you love”] is an uplifting piece of advice, urging us to ponder what it is we most enjoy doing and then turn that activity into a wage-generating enterprise. But why should our pleasure be for profit? Who is the audience for this dictum?
A British thinktank, the New Economics Foundation, is advocating for a shorter work week as a cure for Britain’s economic, social, and environmental woes. The economists argue that the solution to fewer jobs due to technological advances involves work-sharing, and a government legislated maximum work week....more
“Today, careers consist of piecing together various types of work, juggling multiple clients, learning to be marketing and accounting experts, and creating offices in bedrooms/coffee shops/coworking spaces. Independent workers abound. We call them freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, consultants, temps, and the self-employed.”
In 2005 one-third of the American workforce was a part of the “freelance economy,” and data suggests that the numbers have been increasing as the economy has forced some workers out of traditional jobs, while others have chosen the life of the independent worker....more
“The great thing about freelance, of course, is the numerous freedoms it embraces, chief among them being the freedom to work in your underwear. This seems to be the one that everyone knows. I was talking on the phone to an uncle of mine who’s in a nursing home, and when I told him I was working freelance, he said, ‘Oh, the underwear people!'”...more
“What the profiles fail to reveal is that the literary apprenticeship is a lengthy one for the majority, that getting published at all is difficult, and to get paid enough to not do anything else but write is virtually a dream....more
“I really had nothing left in my life when I came to trucking, just the clothes on my back.”...more
A couple months ago, we wrote about Matthew Crawford’s book Shop Class as Soulcraft, and around the same time I read another interesting review of the book, by Caleb Crain. (I refrained from posting about it at the time to avoid Crain-overkill.) In it, he describes the growth of wages, and consequently, leisure during the industrial revolution, and then goes on to produce an amazing quote from Thoreau about money:...more
In a manifesto (er, “ideas piece”) about the importance of the workplace in writing, Alain de Botton calls on contemporary writers to write about work. “If a proverbial alien landed on earth,” he says, “and tried to figure out what human beings did with their time simply on the evidence of the literature sections of a typical bookstore, he or she would come away thinking that we devote ourselves almost exclusively to leading complex relationships, squabbling with our parents, and occasionally murdering people.” Yet work, according to de Botton, is at the core of who we are....more