Thursday, April 28, 2011

Will Work for Free

How has the idea of the apprentice-- not the Donald Trump program but the tradition of mentoring young people in a trade-- evolved into the idea of the intern-- the lowly, unpaid office surf?  Ross Perlin in
Lapham's Quarterly looks at the history concluding:

Every society has its gift economies—you probably don’t pay a relative for babysitting, for instance—but young people working for free en masse is something new and frightening. What’s amazing is how quickly we’ve become inured to it, how naturally we’ve accepted the idea of “investing in ourselves,” bartering for connections and resume line-items. It’s a useful reminder that the notion of work is hardly an eternal verity—more like a shifting, uneven landscape, fought over and redefined in every culture and in every age, in spite of hallowed old chiselings in stone.