Carolyn ChenMar 3, 2022
Work Pray Code
When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley
Princeton University Press 2022
Silicon Valley is known for its lavish perks, intense work culture, and spiritual gurus. Work Pray Code: When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley (Princeton UP, 2022) explores how tech companies are bringing religion into the workplace in ways that are replacing traditional places of worship, blurring the line between work and religion and transforming the very nature of spiritual experience in modern life.
Over the past forty years, highly skilled workers have been devoting more time and energy to their jobs than ever before. They are also leaving churches, synagogues, and temples in droves—but they have not abandoned religion. Carolyn Chen spent more than five years in Silicon Valley, conducting a wealth of in-depth interviews and gaining unprecedented access to the best and brightest of the tech world. The result is a penetrating account of how work now satisfies workers’ needs for belonging, identity, purpose, and transcendence that religion once met. Chen argues that tech firms are offering spiritual care such as Buddhist-inspired mindfulness practices to make their employees more productive, but that our religious traditions, communities, and public sphere are paying the price.
We all want our jobs to be meaningful and fulfilling. Work Pray Code reveals what can happen when work becomes religion, and when the workplace becomes the institution that shapes our souls.