Thought-provoking piece that examines the “do what you love” perspective on work:
By keeping us focused on ourselves and our individual happiness, DWYL distracts us from the working conditions of others while validating our own choices and relieving us from obligations to all who labor, whether or not they love it. It is the secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace. …
No one is arguing that enjoyable work should be less so. But emotionally satisfying work is still work, and acknowledging it as such doesn’t undermine it in any way. Refusing to acknowledge it, on the other hand, opens the door to the most vicious exploitation and harms all workers.
Ironically, DWYL [Do what you love] reinforces exploitation even within the so-called lovable professions where off-the-clock, underpaid, or unpaid labor is the new norm: reporters required to do the work of their laid-off photographers, publicists expected to Pin and Tweet on weekends, the 46 percent of the workforce expected to check their work email on sick days. Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.
Article: In the Name of Love | Jacobin.
What makes this so interesting: I’ve always thought the push toward doing what you love was a great jumping-off point for a redemptive perspective on picking careers.
but this author really challenges those thoughts. Miya suggests that the “do what you love” works only in a capitalist world where the privileged few, subsidized by the mindless work of the many, have the luxury of following their passions.
I’ve been thinking about mindless work for a long time. In an unfallen world, we would still have work. God set Adam in a garden with plenty to do. The Curse wasn’t that we would have to work, it was that man’s work would be in toil and sweat, with the whole Creation pushing back against him.
In an uncursed world, work would not demand so much struggle – the drudgery that sucks us down on Mondays and makes us wish Friday afternoon were already here. People wouldn’t be standing before an assembly line screwing two parts together for hours on end. We wouldn’t consign brilliant carpenters to a life in fast food service because we don’t buy enough handcrafted tables to support them as craftsmen.
Is the answer, then, that a redeemed economics would lead to everyone doing what he or she loves?
I’m left with a lot of questions. Read the article and weigh in.