Working in the 21st Century
An Oral History of American Work in a Time of Social and Economic Transformation
Published by: Agate Publishing
- Published: February 2024
From nurses and teachers to wildland firefighters and funeral directors—an intimate, honest, and illuminating collection of interviews that reveal what it’s like to work in America at this historic and volatile moment in time.
Author Mark Larson sits down with more than one hundred workers from across the socioeconomic spectrum as they share their experiences with work and what it has meant in their lives—the good, the bad, the mundane, and the profound. Doulas, firefighters, chefs, hairstylists, executives, actors, stay-at-home parents, and so many more talk about what they do all day and how it aligns (or doesn't) with what they want to be doing with their lives. The pandemic, the ensuing “Great Resignation,” and the current reckonings with racial justice are among the forces that are now upending and reshaping our longstanding relationships with work. Larson’s interviews display how these forces collide in the lives of average Americans as they tell their own stories with passion, heartbreak, and, ultimately, hope.
Working in the 21st Century asks why we show up—or don’t—to the jobs we’ve chosen, and how the upheaval of the past few years has changed how we perceive the work we do. It will be released to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Studs Terkel's 1974 classic Working.