The Job: Work and its Future in a Time of Radical Change

Ellen Ruppel Shell. Currency, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-0-451-49725-3
Shell (Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture), a Boston University journalism professor, investigates the status of work in 21st-century America in this sweeping study. The basic problem, she observes, is that “the number of living-wage jobs has declined in the 21st century.” In order to elucidate the causes of underemployment, Shell speaks to workers of all stripes and from across the country. Analyzing “digital-age capitalism,” she dispels myths about how technology has changed the job market, observing that the greatest increase in demand has not been for highly paid professions like engineering and medicine but for poorly paid service jobs. For a counterexample to the fragmented, work-obsessed, and individualistic U.S., she travels to Finland, a “modern success story,” she deems, “built on an extraordinary level of social trust.” Throughout, she emphasizes to what degree people derive meaning from work and the problems that arise when their work is fundamentally unsatisfying. According to Shell, Americans as a people must change their way of determining what constitutes a good job and even upend the concept of work as they know it. General readers will appreciate the breadth and scope of Shell’s thoughtful, inquisitive work. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2018
Release date: 10/23/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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