Book Review: “Labor of Love” by Moira Weigel

Labor of Love by Moira Weigel

[Full essay here]

In May, Sensei Claire Marshall published a piece, “Why The Gig Economy Is Like A Bad Boyfriend”, which made a very perceptive comparison of dating and the contemporary gig economy . Like dating, “selling yourself” in the gig economy is a lot of work, and often goes unrepaid. I remarked that she left off the one most telling parallel of all: ‘He’ is not interested in a relationship with you.

Marshall’s simile got me thinking about this correlation. It cannot be a coincidence that the same technology is employed by swipe-left dating apps and Uber-style gig markets.


Weigel on “The Labor of Love”

With this question in my head, I encountered Moira Weigel’s new book, “Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating”. Weigel’s history of American courtship customs documents how the popular culture surrounding “dating” has changed over the last centuries, but retained some consistent features. Dating generally “is a lot of work, particularly for women” (hence the subtitle), and, of especial interest here, “the way we consume
love changes to reflect the 
economy of the times”.


The Chicken or the Egg?

But, thinking about Marshall’s observations, I have to wonder if the contemporary gig economy created the dating app lifestyle, or was it vice versa?

The gig economy didn’t create the online dating scene, the dating culture created the digitally driven gig economy.


What Is To Be Done?

This possibly deep correlation between “dating” and the gig economy implies that  “solutions” for one may be valuable improvements for the other—and may pay off double in the lives of young workers. What might we want to try?

[Read the full review and essay here]

  1. Moira Weigel, Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.

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