Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day

Craig Lambert. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-61902-525-7
In this insightful work, former Harvard Magazine deputy editor Lambert (Mind Over Water) examines how people spend their time, pointing out just how much is taken up with “shadow work”: tasks that people perform on their own behalf for free, often via automated tools, that used to be outsourced to paid workers. He writes that “most of us do not recognize [shadow work] or realize how much of it we are doing, even as we pump our own gas, scan and bag our own groceries, execute our own stock trades, and assemble our Ikea furniture.” To Lambert’s mind, automation has actually chipped away at leisure time, as well as human contact and personal service. Though Lambert raises good points about the effect of shadow work on social interaction, observing that it “can make people more self-sufficient, while at the same time sealing them off in silos,” there’s occasionally a reactionary, alarmist tinge to his comments as he yearns for the good old days. By exposing this phenomenon, Lambert may help readers become more aware of their choices and opportunities. His observations are both illuminating and disturbing, and well worth considering. Agent: Julia Lord, Julia Lord Literary Management. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/23/2015
Release date: 05/01/2015
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-61902-736-7
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