A compelling and confronting investigation into the phenomenon of dirty work – labour that society considers essential, but morally compromised
Guards who patrol the wards of America's most violent and abusive prisons. Undocumented immigrants who man the 'kill floors' of industrial slaughterhouses. Roustabouts who drill for oil on offshore rigs.
These are the essential workers we prefer not to think about. Their morally dubious, often physically violent and dangerous activity sustains modern society yet is concealed from our gaze. It is work that falls disproportionately in deprived areas, on immigrants and people of colour, and entails a less familiar set of occupational hazards – stigma, shame and moral injury.
Reporting from a hidden America, Eyal Press gathers a powerful set of testimonies from people doing society's dirty work and, in doing so, reveals fundamental truths about the moral dimensions of employment and the hidden costs of inequality. Striking, sophisticated and nuanced, Dirty Work will change the way you think about the ethics of work.
'A fascinating study in the better angels of our nature' George Packer, New Yorker.
'Moral dilemmas of this kind tend to have a black-and-white clarity. Working from life, Mr. Press brings out the greys ... Rich in personal, circumstantial details that analytical thinkers may overlook' Economist.
'Evocative ... A valentine to the human spirit' Wall Street Journal