Opinion | Even With a Dream Job, You Can Be Antiwork


Evidence for such a reappraisal is, admittedly, more anecdotal than rigorous. It might well be that as soon as labor markets loosen up, workers will again answer to their bosses’ every beck and call.

But David Frayne, a sociologist who is the author of “The Refusal of Work,” noted that traumatic events often cause people to reassess their lives and goals.

“The pandemic has had the potential to create that kind of disruption on a mass scale,” Frayne told me, and the disruption has created new political opportunities for regulating labor markets in a way that favors workers. He pointed out that in Britain, where he lives, politicians have begun to entertain the idea of a four-day workweek, a plan that was long considered a no-go.

In the United States, the Biden administration’s huge social policy legislation — now stalled in Congress — was also conceived in part as a way to address the kind of problems working people experienced during the pandemic. And the pandemic cracked open space to discuss more far-flung ideas for a society that is no longer centered on work — especially a universal basic income, a policy that is being tested in pilot programs across the country.

You can get a peek of a post-job world at /antiwork, a Reddit forum “for those who want to end work” that has gone viral in recent months, with hundreds of thousands following its subversive cause. /antiwork teems with posts from workers who are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore — including many screenshots from folks saying they are telling off their managers, quitting in a rage after years of abuse.

I’ve been reading /antiwork for months, and I’ve been surprised to find myself joining in the visceral thrill of seeing people wrest the reins of their lives from the soul-sucking, health-destroying maw of capitalism.

I was surprised to find common cause with people on /antiwork because, of course, I have very little to complain about, job-wise. Indeed, at least once a day I revel in open-mouthed gratitude. What I do to make a living — writing this column — is less physically demanding and more intellectually rewarding than anything my ancestors had to endure to earn their supper, and — don’t tell my bosses — more than fair compensation for my time and effort.



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