For nearly thirty years, Robert Bruno has taught labor history and labor studies to union members from a wide range of occupations and demographic groups. In the class, he asked his students to finish the question “Work is—?” in six words or less. The thousands of responses he collected provide some of the rich source material behind What Work Is. Bruno draws on the thoughts and feelings experienced by workers in the present day to analyze how we might design a future of work. He breaks down perceptions of work into five categories: work and time; the space workers occupy; the impact of work on our lives; the sense of purpose that motivates workers; and the people we work for, in all senses of the term.

Far-seeing and sympathetic, What Work Is merges personal experiences with research, poetry, and other diverse sources to illuminate workers’ lives in the present and envision what work could be in the future.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of Illinois Press
Number of pages232
ISBN (Electronic)9780252055119
ISBN (Print)9780252045493, 9780252087608
StatePublished - Jan 9 2024

Publication series

NameThe Working Class in American History


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