New Books Network

Michelle Pannor Silver

Retirements and its Discontents

Why We Won’t Stop Working, Even If We Can

Columbia University Press 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network August 6, 2018 Sarah E. Patterson

How do different professionals experience retirement? Michelle Pannor Silver’s new book Retirements and its Discontents: Why We Won’t Stop Working, Even If We Can...

How do different professionals experience retirement? Michelle Pannor Silver’s new book Retirements and its Discontents: Why We Won’t Stop Working, Even If We Can (Columbia University Press, 2018), explores this question and more through interview with doctors, CEOs, elite athletes, professors, and homemakers. These retirees experience a sense of loss or felt like strangers in their own lives, but they also experience a sense of purpose in their new pursuits and find new ways to become themselves. Doctors are required to commit their whole lives to their job and retirement introduces a new life with free time and flexibility that was not there before. CEOs also had a diverse set of experiences including some who were forced into retirement, an experience shared across the other professionals as well. Elite athletes are an interesting group because sometimes they are retiring at, what would be considered for retirement, very young ages. Professors also experience a diverse range of retirement experiences and here Silver talks more about the idea of working in place, similar to the idea of aging in place. Silver also explores the retirement experiences of homemakers, a group typically ignored in the retirement literature. Overall, she leaves the reader with some key takeaways.

This book will be of interest to a wide audience, from retirees themselves to Sociologists and Gerontologists. A strength of this book is its accessible organization and style of writing; the presentation of case studies makes the materials relatable and interesting. Sections of this book or the whole book could be easily digested by an undergraduate audience, and this text would be an important addition to a graduate course in aging or work.


Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can tweet her at @spattersearch