Library Journal Review
Journalist Shell (Cheap; Hungry Gene) examines how rapid economic change has affected not only how jobs are performed, but also the meaning of work. Surveying advice commonly given to those seeking first employment or retraining for new jobs, Shell finds persistent ideas about the meaning of work that are radically at odds with current economic realities. According to the author, these outmoded myths often carry over to the educational and political systems that fail to prepare individuals for the new world of work and accentuate the difference between ambition and reality. Early chapters of the book present grim stories of disillusionment within the workplace. As Shell moves through her discussion of the changing world of work, she also explores distinctive educational, entrepreneurial, and economic models that attempt to disrupt accustomed patterns, such as the educational approach of Berea College. The book concludes with a degree of optimism that contrasts with the apparent hopelessness of early sections. While not breaking new ground, Shell nonetheless will stimulate thinking about new approaches to the inevitability of work. -VERDICT A highly readable book that will appeal to general readers trying to understand the rapid changes in the nature of work.-Charles K. Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.