“Working” explores, through interviews, the emotions that a multitude of American employees were feeling as they worked in over 100 occupations during the early 1970’s. Since that time, American workplaces have changed in ways that are even less beneficial to American workers. Thus, “Working” is a book that is even more relevant today.
The interviews of this book center upon these workers’ emotional reactions to their triumphs, frustrations, conflicts, and mistakes. These types of emotions are not limited to any historical era. Examples of these emotions are the:
- Feelings of workers that their jobs are dehumanizing.
- Feelings that their compensation and benefits packages are not adequate.
- Regrets that excessive work hours and power games have degraded the quality their of personal, family, and community health.
- Dislike of the conflict between different employees in their work groups.
- Animosity felt between workers and their bosses.
- Frustrations of trying to reconcile their career dreams and career realities.
- Negative feelings that come from competing with people and the positive feelings that come from helping people.
Studs Terkel , a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, wrote this book in a way that is very easy to read. Readers can pick and choose the specific interviews they want to read and the order in which they decide to read them.
Baltimore area residents will appreciate the interviews with:
- The government worker as described on pages 344-347.
- The steelworker as described on pages 552-558.
- The three health care workers as described on pages 481-488, 494-497, 501-504.
“Working” gives the reader career information in a different and vibrant manner. Some books, such as biographies and auto biographies, give the reader an understanding of the total life of one person. Other manuals, such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, give the reader up to date, group averaged data about employees in hundreds of occupational groups. “Working” is focused, however, only on careers, and thus has a shorter format than biographies and auto biographies. Furthermore, “Working” has a more emotional format than does the Occupational Outlook Handbook descriptions, which are more accurate descriptions of today’s jobs.
This book will help readers to realize that other workers have had and still do have work related emotions similar to their own emotions. Realizing the prevalence of these emotions can help modern day workers to feel less lonely and isolated. Read “Working” not for the technical accuracy of the job descriptions, but for the emotions expressed.