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Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber
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Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (edition 2019)

by David Graeber (Author)

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7051824,674 (3.96)3
" 'Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world?' David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative online essay titled On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs. He defined a bullshit job as 'a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence, even though as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.' After a million views in seventeen different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer. . . . Graeber, in his singularly searing and illuminating style, identifies the five types of bullshit jobs and argues that when 1 percent of the population controls most of a society's wealth, they control what jobs are 'useful' and 'important.' . . . Graeber illustrates how nurses, bus drivers, musicians, and landscape gardeners provide true value, and what it says about us as a society when we look down upon them. Using arguments from some of the most revered political thinkers, philosophers, and scientists of our time, Graeber articulates the societal and political consequences of these bullshit jobs. Depression, anxiety, and a warped sense of our values are all dire concerns. He provides a blueprint to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture, providing the meaning and satisfaction we all crave."--Jacket.… (more)
Member:JpCohan
Title:Bullshit Jobs: A Theory
Authors:David Graeber (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2019), Edition: 1, 368 pages
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Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber

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English (15)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (17)
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"I would like this book to be an arrow aimed at the heart of our civilization. There is something very wrong with what we have made ourselves. We have become a civilization based on work—not even 'productive work' but work as an end and meaning in itself." (Graeber, 2018, p.xxiv)
⁣⁣
If your job ceased to exist in this world, will it matter so much or actually make the world a better place? David Graeber, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics, wrote an article for Strike Magazine in August 2013 titled "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs." to provoke thought on how pointless jobs are prevalent nowadays. And how Keynes' prediction in 1930 that we could've achieved a 15-hour workweek by the end of the century didn't happen. The article went viral and gathered a lot of workers all around the world, saying their jobs are bullshit. YouGov survey in Britain found that 37 percent of people believed that their jobs did not make a "meaningful contribution to the world." and in Denmark put the figure at 40 percent.⁣⁣

"Final Working Definition: a bullshit job is a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case."(Graeber, 2019,p.9)
⁣⁣
This book is written based on Graeber's article and filled with findings from the follow-through qualitative research. The evidence showed in this book proves that these BS jobs cause psychological harm or what Graeber called "spiritual violence". Some of them are trapped with their job because they have to pay for their lives. Even with ample salaries, status, and comfortable offices, they don't feel happy. A German psychologist, Karl Groos, coined "the pleasure at being the cause" that explains to be human is to seek contribution and make an impact on society or the world. ⁣⁣Only a handful of workers can try to keep their equilibrium by using their time at work for other purposes, such as learning a language or pursuing independent research of personal interest.

This book's aim is not to find a solution but to make us think that there is a problem that anyone hasn't dared to discuss. Why do people with jobs that matter to our society make lesser money? Why, with all of this advancement of technology, we still have more than a 40-hours workweek, and bullshit jobs keep proliferate? ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
With our current economic system, this isn't supposed to happen because capitalism is believed to produce economic efficiency and to maximize profit. Graeber proposed that the "managerial feudalism" system is behind this, where employers are adding levels of management that everyone feels their job is essential or justified. The feeling that work is a moral value within oneself also plays a part here. Most people believe anyone who doesn't want to submit to an intense work discipline is absurd because work builds character. They think that the real path to responsible adulthood lies not in pursuing your passions but in doing something difficult, even if it damages your soul. Graeber said that this might also be a modern variant of Puritanism. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
I brought this book to a journal/book club with my friends from university, and we discussed how this issue is relevant in Indonesia. We have a discourse about massive job creation, which initiates the Omnibus Law that ignores workers' rights to draw investments. Our country is still a developing country that needs to reduce unemployment numbers, and to achieve that, we create more BS Jobs. My friends and I also have the experience of BS Jobs; I was once a marketing communication intern who does nothing beneficial for the company, let alone for the world. Just searching for quotes and quizzes for the wifi login page and packing for parcels. I feel exhausted, hollow, and anxious, the same way with what the workers in this book described. Reading this validates what we felt back then.⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Graeber doesn't want to provide a policy solution, but what he can propose to at least reduce the BS jobs is Universal Basic Income. If nations separated work from making a living, more people might open their eyes to the harmful effects of meaningless work. And they can freely choose which work that can make them happy and benefit our society. ⁣

“I was looking for a job, and then I found a job, and heaven knows I'm miserable now.” - The Smiths ( )
  bellacrl | Jan 19, 2021 |
It's an easy concept to sell because it's so instinctively correct - everyone hates marketers. Backed by vague handwavy data and a bunch of anecdotes and letters. Those don't make any of this true. The letters seem to all come from people who had unrewarding jobs and then found Jesus and became hippies. Maybe there's some self-selection going on, don't you think?

There are inefficiencies in big companies (I experience it first hand) but the author's claims go too far and I'm surprised that labour theory of value is still alive and well in the 21st century. I'm also amused by the author's repeated claims that he is not a socialist but an anarchist. I think the lady does protest too much. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
Another stupid book that does not say anything new…

Bullshit jobs? How about stupid people doing stupid things?

Is a window cleaner a bullshit job?? Graeber things it is. If a windows cleaner doesn’t do it we would really be up shit creek - I imagine there are millions in the same boat. Firstly, clean windows are always uplifting - letting light into the room and it's nice when your eyes don't have to rest on dirt. And you can see out into the world, the blue skies etc. And secondly, for some people, you will be a welcome point in their day - especially those who can't get out much anymore.

So I once dreamed of a society (that could be, if not close to perfect, at least better) where people who receive higher salaries are the ones who perform jobs nobody wants: cleaning latrines, harvesting vegetables from the fields, and so on. But then I discovered that somebody had had the same dream and wrote about it. The title of the book was Utopia, and the author Thomas More. But we live in a different world, where those who have a managing position do not earn less than the rest but more (the opposite would be a great idea, since it would weed out those who won't or can't do other type of job, and that would attract people who are really interested in and good at managing for managerial jobs). But we don't have that, and that is capitalism for you. The whole basic income/leisure society idea is pie in the sky, because humans are social hierarchical beings. We create power and wealth hierarchies even where they are totally unnecessary. We want to create distinctions between "them" and "us". If we were a rational and fair-minded species, nobody in the world would be starving today; we have all the necessary resources, but we don't have the will. If you give everyone their fundamental needs - and allow them to feel that this is sufficient - the entire system of late capitalism falls apart. Given the choice between doing what interests you, or doing a job that someone will pay you for, you will always opt for the former, so long as your basic needs are being met. This not being the case is the engine that makes capitalism tick. Well, that and the artificial sense of need created by advertising.

So many people are obsessed with proving that they are more intelligent than their boss/colleague/staff member. It wastes so much time when people can’t communicate as they’re only trying to say things that make them look powerful, big or clever. No one listens to anyone else. Just stop worrying about whether you look clever, what everyone thinks of you and - metaphorically - how big your dick is. Just work together to get the job done.

Senior Management dream up stupid projects to raise their profile, start dragging everyone else into their gravity shit field. Then when you contact them to say you've cracked it they've fucked off to some other department and their replacement couldn't give a shit because it never really needed doing in the first place.

Functional stupidity is rife in many organisations.

The problem is not bullshit jobs; the problem is bullshit people. ( )
  antao | Nov 14, 2020 |
David Graeber is very smart, he knows it, and he wants you to know it too, but I'm totally okay with that because I am very persuaded by his arguments. ( )
  KimMeyer | Sep 8, 2020 |
A thought-provoking book about the `bullshit` jobs, about their origin, why they`re around and proliferating and what we should do against them. ( )
  TheCrow2 | Jul 9, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Graeberprimary authorall editionscalculated
Litman, DavidCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vogel, SebastianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To anyone who would rather be doing something useful with themselves.
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In the spring of 2013, I unwittingly set off a very minor international sensation.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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" 'Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world?' David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative online essay titled On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs. He defined a bullshit job as 'a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence, even though as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.' After a million views in seventeen different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer. . . . Graeber, in his singularly searing and illuminating style, identifies the five types of bullshit jobs and argues that when 1 percent of the population controls most of a society's wealth, they control what jobs are 'useful' and 'important.' . . . Graeber illustrates how nurses, bus drivers, musicians, and landscape gardeners provide true value, and what it says about us as a society when we look down upon them. Using arguments from some of the most revered political thinkers, philosophers, and scientists of our time, Graeber articulates the societal and political consequences of these bullshit jobs. Depression, anxiety, and a warped sense of our values are all dire concerns. He provides a blueprint to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture, providing the meaning and satisfaction we all crave."--Jacket.

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