Livia Gershon


Freelance writer. Words at JSTOR Daily, Longreads, The Week, Aeon, HuffPost, among others.


Selected work:

“How YouTube is shaping the future of work,”JSTOR Daily
Americans tend to expect our jobs to provide us with not just money but fulfillment, to offer a chance for creativity, purpose, and contribution to our communities. That’s the promise that YouTube represents to many people, a way to do the thing that means the most to them and turn it into a career. If that doesn’t work out—and, for most people, it doesn’t—that feels like failure. But maybe it’s really a sign that we’re living in a culture that expects far too much from work.

“We all work for Facebook,” Longreads
Whenever you post a photo on Instagram, write an Amazon review, or skim through complaints about potholes on your neighborhood’s Facebook group, you’re helping generate profit for the world’s richest corporations. A growing movement is making the case that you ought to get paid for it.

“Drug users are forming unions to protect their rights and safety,” HuffPost
Users’ unions represent an extreme version of the increasingly widespread philosophy that it’s better to keep people alive than to insist they have to be ready to quit before getting any help.
“We will not be silenced,” Tilley said. “We’re taking our lives back. We’re sick of dying behind closed doors because of stigma and stereotype.”

“The key to jobs in the future is not college but compassion,” Aeon
Just as the behemoth machines of the industrial revolution made physical strength less necessary for humans, the information revolution frees us to complement, rather than compete with, the technical competence of computers. Many of the most important jobs of the future will require soft skills, not advanced algebra.

“Stolen elections, voting dogs, and other fantastic fables,” Talking Points Memo
Trump may have brought the Republican Party into a new era, but such attitudes long predate Trump. For decades, complaints about “voter fraud” have been a core component of Republican right-wing folklore — and one of their most useful election-year tools, particularly in places where winning the white vote isn’t enough to win elections.

“Beyond Growth,” Longreads
Imagine having less than half of our current wealth as a nation, and you might picture a wasteland of hunger and unemployment. But you might also picture 1976, when per-capita GDP was $27,446 in 2012 dollars, compared with $56,455 today. If it doesn’t feel like we, as a society, are twice as wealthy now as we were then, it might be a sign that growth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“Lucy in the sky with doctors,” The Boston Globe
Standing outside the Harvard Crimson, a dozen people listened to a story about a young Harvard undergraduate who was blackmailed into snitching on a professor who had given him psilocybin. When asked whether he’d taken the drugs, the student told his dean, “Yes sir, I did. And it was the most educational experience I’ve had at Harvard.”

“When loving thy neighbor means saving them from deportation,” Vice
John Pratt went by Big Bad John for years, when he was a drug user, a dealer, a pimp, and a bookie. Two strokes and a brain aneurism left him with his leg in a brace but convinced him to get clean, and drop the “Bad” from his moniker. John started going to the Sunday service in English and the Wednesday afternoon multicultural service every week. Almost immediately, he was surprised to find himself forming friendships with people of other races. “Before I came to this church, I kind of looked at everything ‘white is right,'” he said. “I was kind of a bit of a racist.”

“This is what happens when people with diabetes lose Medicaid,” HuffPost
“I went to take a nap and then I didn’t wake up for two days. When I woke up, I looked like the Matrix. I had all these tubes coming out of me.” For people like Sanchez, the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act changed everything. The accessibility increased the chances that diabetics would be diagnosed early on before they have life-threatening emergencies and that those who were seeking treatment could successfully manage their disease, preventing hospital visits.

“What if working less is better?” The Boston Globe
For most of human existence, the idea that idleness was a serious problem would have been unintelligible. If we could free ourselves from the guilt and shame of not working enough, many of us might eat without email, pick a lower-pressure job, or just spend the weekend playing that new Zelda game with our kids. And we might also become less judgmental toward people who don’t work as much as we do.

‘Drunkards!’ How an anti-Irish stereotype began, The Boston Globe
Supposedly extreme drinking by Irish-Americans offered the nineteenth century’s native-born middle-class a convenient way to pin the desperate misery of exploited immigrants on their own personal failings.

Why do we take pride in working for a paycheck? JSTOR Daily
Today, American pundits across the political spectrum see holding a job as a key to self-respect, and welfare as a source of deep humiliation. But, just 150 years ago, when people talked about the shame of dependency, they were referring to the reality of being forced to hold a job.

Absent fathers no longer: Men confront sterotypes The Guardian
“I talk with them, I play with them, I cook for them. Like a mom. Like everything you would think of a mother, that’s really how I feel a father should be as well.”
In working-class families, assumptions about what a family looks like have changed dramatically in recent decades. As the traditional breadwinner role fades, dads are redefining fatherhood.

Can unions make a desperate comeback under Trump? Vice
The current political scene is a disaster for organized labor. But the urgency of the moment is pushing some workers to fight for their rights like never before.

Who Owns Chinatown? Buzzfeed
In early April, Pei Ying marches with dozens of supporters from her old apartment on Hudson Street to City Hall. She tells her story again, recalling the time she hopped on the Marriott shuttle to get to her subway stop and discovered too late it was actually headed to a shopping mall. She ended up stranded, late for work, and terrified of losing her job. Lately, she’s taken to keeping a loaf of bread in the big red backpack she carries everywhere, in case she gets lost and can’t find anything else to eat.

Bring Back Women’s Liberation, Aeon
A feminism based on the Liberation Ethic would ditch the false dichotomy of dependence and independence and acknowledge that, in a complex human society, we are all necessarily interdependent. Above all, it would argue not that women should live more like men, but that everyone, regardless of gender, should live more like they want to.

Trump’s Biggest Fan, The Guardian
On the morning of the New Hampshire primary, retired marine corps First Sgt Al Baldasaro stood outside Londonderry high school, where a steady stream of people were heading in to vote. He’d been told Donald Trump would probably make an appearance around 10, but that time had long since passed.

What you think you know about kids and public housing is wrong, The Nation
Public housing is good for kids. Why is that? Just ask families living in pay-by-the-week motels or doubling up with relatives because they can’t get help with housing.

Happiness is the New GDP, Quartz
To a growing number of economists and policymakers, surveys measuring happiness are a source of guidance that, in some respects, can be more useful than our standard measure of economic success—GDP. But what would it look like, at the level of concrete government policies, to base decisions on happiness?

What makes work meaningful? Ask a zookeeper, JSTOR Daily
If meaning is the thing that makes us work well and with satisfaction, even if it means spending Christmas morning cutting up lettuce for a tortoise, it’s not the sort of thing that can be served up in a corporate mission statement.

Don’t give my kid an award in school, Pacific Standard
As economic inequality in this country grows, it’s getting more and more ridiculous to ignore the systemic reasons that some kids do better in school than others.

America’s quiet homelessness nightmare is 1.3 million homeless students, Salon
That veteran who used to sleep under a bridge? There’s a good chance he now has his own place, with access to health care and counseling. But meanwhile, a mom with a couple of kids down the street has moved in with her sister’s family, and one more fight over shared bedrooms could send them looking for somewhere else to stay.

No, Republicans are not the party of the white working class,
The conclusion that the GOP is the new party of the white working class ignores the way the demographics of the vote actually break down. And it obscures a much more serious problem that Democrats have with less affluent Americans of all races and education levels.

The rise and fall of ‘education for leisure’, JSTOR Daily
Here’s one response to low labor demand you won’t hear today: Teach philosophy and art appreciation, so that people whose working hours are cut can use the time to cultivate their human potential. A hundred years ago, though, that was something that looked to a lot of people like a viable solution to falling employment.

A Libertarian Move to Build a New Society, Aeon Magazine
If you really want to talk about what it means to oppose the government, the place to start isn’t with Republicans. It’s with the one group in the US political landscape that absolutely promises to take our rhetoric about freedom seriously: libertarians.

Tom Friedman’s bizarre fantasy: Here’s who he needs to meet, Salon
For a lot of working-class people, the Friedman worldview represents a fun-house mirror version of a much more depressing daily reality.

Labor of Love, Beer Advocate Magazine
For craft brewery workers, passion often comes at a cost, as the industry strives to create competitive jobs.