Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do is a 1974 nonfiction book by the oral historian and radio broadcaster Studs Terkel.
Working investigates the meaning of work for different people under different circumstances, showing it can vary in importance. The book also reflects Terkel’s general idea that work can be difficult but still provides meaning for workers. It is an exploration of what makes work meaningful for people in all walks of life, from Lovin’ Al the parking valet, Dolores the waitress, the fireman, to the business executive. The narrative moves through mundane details, emotional truths, and existential questioning.
As the foreword to the book points out, “Mr. Terkel found, work was a search, sometimes successful, sometimes not, ‘for daily meaning as well as daily bread’.... The oral histories in Working are wistful dispatches from a distant era...when management practices and computers were just beginning to transform the American workplace. In the last thirty years, productivity has soared but job satisfaction has plummeted. It is hard to read Working without wondering what has gone wrong.”