Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce.
For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love (which is, in fact, most labor) is not only demeaned but erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from the spectrum of consciousness altogether.
Yet arduous, low-wage work is what ever more Americans do and will be doing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two fastest-growing occupations projected until 2020 are “Personal Care Aide” and “Home Care Aide,” with average salaries of $19,640 per year and $20,560 per year in 2010, respectively. Elevating certain types of professions to something worthy of love necessarily denigrates the labor of those who do unglamorous work that keeps society functioning, especially the crucial work of caregivers.
A lot of the Reconnect crew transitions into other types of arduous, low wage work: construction, fast food, other barista gigs. Similarly, many existing skill-building programs out there graduate people into repetitive and undistinguished work. Is the question I am tackling, “How might we make ‘repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished’ work better paying, more secure, and more respected?” Or is it, “How might we improve access to 'creative, intellectual, socially prestigious’ work to people with less privilege?”
Or, is it a privilege to be thinking about this at all, and instead, should I stay focused on connecting the Reconnect crew to any secure job at all?