Prepare for class discussions by answering the discussion questions.
1. Have you ever had a coworker whom you really liked who then became the boss and seemed to change completely? Theoretically, they got promoted because of who they were, but then who they were seemed to change. What do you think that tells us about our ideas of what it means to be a boss and the culture of work in America?
2. Did you know someone who lost a job as a result of the economic downturn during the Great Recession? How long did it take them to find a new job? What was that process like for them? Did they have to settle for something less enjoyable or lower paying than what they were doing previously?
3. In America, a big part of how we define ourselves is on the basis of work. After all, one of the first questions adults typically ask someone they just met is, “So, what do you do?” Have you ever felt judged for what you do? How do you think people who have recently been laid off or are long unemployed feel about social interactions where they might be asked questions about their work? How might this impact their physical and mental health?
4. Do you see work as a means to an end--meaning you just have to make money to survive, and it doesn’t matter if you truly like your job--or as something you must enjoy if it’s going to be worth your time? What would you do with your career if all jobs made roughly the same salary? Do you think all social workers need to be passionate about the work they do in order to be good at their jobs?