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SHADOW WORK: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day



Original Language: English | 193 pp. | May 2015

2 Seas Represents: French, Dutch and Nordic rights.

Rights Sold: Germany (Redline Verlag), Korea (Minumsa), China (Grand China Publishing), Czech Rep. (Albatros).


Shadow Work is all the things we do—from assembling our own furniture to booking our own travel—that has become the new normal. And like everything that becomes the new normal, it is invisible. Lambert’s ambition is substantial: to make that invisible visible. His hope is that once we see where we are, we can make some choices about where we want to go. A deft writer; a compelling case.Sherry Turkle, Professor of the social studies of science and technology, MIT, and the author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Craig Lambert combines his gifts as sociologist and detective to solve that perennial mystery: where has all our time gone? In Shadow Work he reveals how we unwittingly perform labors that companies used to do, but have offloaded onto us. Reading Shadow Work will be full of A-ha! moments for readers. It’s delightful, surprising, witty, and smart.Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

Where have all the sales clerks/bank tellers/travel agents gone? Long time passing, along with the secretaries, waitstaff, ticket agents, and so many more. Those jobs still exist, but now you, the so-called customer, are doing them—without pay, of course, and on your own time. As Craig Lambert shows in this mordant, mischievous book, our no-service gig economy gives new meaning to the phrase “free market. – Hendrik Hertzberg, Staff writer, The New Yorker

I’ve been enjoying Craig Lambert’s work for decades in Harvard Magazine.  He can make any topic clear, readable, and fascinating. And here he’s got a great story: the excess “shadow work” we’ve all taken on in the modern age. From the first page, he’ll have you looking at your life, and the world, in a whole new way. – Mike Reiss, Emmy-winning writer, The Simpsons

This book will revolutionize the way you look at how you spend your time—doing countless hours of unpaid work for The Man. Like Malcolm Gladwell, Craig Lambert brilliantly reveals the hidden currents of contemporary life.Daniel Klein, co-author, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

Think you know how you spend your days? Think again. Shadow Work is a visionary book that will change the way you look at—well, just about everything.Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

Do we work to live or live to work? Do we accumulate wealth to achieve a meaningful life, or is life made meaningful in the crass accumulation of wealth? Is time money, or is it life? These are some of the deeper issues probed in this deceptively modest but ultimately profound work. A skillful, wide-ranging exploration of the changing nature of work, the erosion of leisure, and the excessive commodification of time in modern society, rendered in an accessible, wryly elegant style that engages on every page. – Orlando Patterson, John Cowles professor of sociology, Harvard University, Winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction

Shadow Work is a game changer. Craig Lambert opens our eyes to how we are enticed and then burdened into doing work that years ago was done by others—work that isolates us from community. He allows us to appreciate why children can no longer play because soccer Moms have taken over the sandlots. Adults enjoy leisure on paper and believe they have organized the perfect life. Only Lambert again and again provides fresh detail to show that we aren’t living it. This book will be a favorite of book clubs as the new generation tries to recover what the past generation has just lost—their free time!George E. Vaillant, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, author of Triumphs of Experience.

In a provocative new work, Dr. Craig Lambert explains ‘shadow work’—what he calls the unpaid tasks we do on behalf of businesses and organizations that have stealthily slipped into our routine and are significantly altering our lives. We scan and bag our own groceries, execute our own stock trades, print our own airline tickets, build our own unassembled furniture and pump our own gas. To a degree, waves of new technology demand our flexibility in terms of time, but we are simply doing a huge number of tasks that were once done for us by others.
Lambert explores the far-reaching effects of shadow work on individuals and on the global economy, offering a field guide to this new phenomenon and shining a light on trends now so prevalent in our daily lives. And, more importantly, he provides valuable insight into how to deal with the ubiquitous shadow work that surrounds us. Like Tipping Point and Freakonomics, Shadow Work will become the catchphrase for the new servitude that’s established such a foothold in our society.

Craig Lambert is deputy editor at Harvard Magazine and has written for Sports Illustrated and Town & Country. He is the author of Mind Over Water: Lessons on Life from the Art of Rowing, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.