The monthly socialservice.sg book club focuses on books (available digitally through NLB’s OverDrive or Libby) / open-access journal articles / curated collections of commentaries related to socio-economic issues related to Singapore.

Sessions are held on the last Thursday of each month, from 9 to 10.15pm.

Here on this page, you can find out more about the upcoming session and read the discussion prompts and notes from past sessions. Contact us if you’re interested to be on the mailing list! You’ll receive an email reminder with the prompts a week before each session.

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Upcoming session (February 25, 9 to 10.15pm)

Date: February 25, 2021 (Thursday)
Time: 9 to 10.15pm
Book: Gerard Sasges and Ng Shi Wen’s “Hard at Work: Life in Singapore” (https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5428460)
RSVP: Contact us if you’re not already on the mailing list

Discussion prompts:

  1. Which of the 60 stories resonated most strongly with you? In addition, did any of the stories resonate at a more personal level (e.g. you or a family member having worked in those occupations?
  2. For me, common themes include: (a) Work as tiring and exhausting; (b) Routines as boring, monotonous, and repetitive; (c) The lack of joy; and (d) Poor remuneration for labour. To what extent do you agree, and were there other themes you identified?
  3. How do you think the authors framed dignity or pride in the book, perhaps connected to (2)?
  4. What did you make of the many instances of stereotyping and racism at the workplace?
  5. How will the future of work in Singapore mirror these past and present experiences? Or not?
  6. Overall, does “Hard at Work” paint an adequately diverse or representative picture of “work and life in contemporary Singapore”, as the authors had intended? What stood out? And what was missing?

The likely book for the session in March is David Graeber’s “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory” (https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/3717566), which should be a good complement to “Hard at Work: Life in Singapore“.

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Past book club sessions

January 28
Michael J. Sandel’s “The Tyranny of Merit” (Read the discussion prompts and notes)