Bullshit Jobs

Bullshit Jobs

A Theory

Book - 2018
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From bestselling writer David Graeber, a powerful argument against the rise of meaningless, unfulfilling jobs, and their consequences.

Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world? In the spring of 2013, David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative essay titled "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs." It went viral. After a million online views in seventeen different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer.

There are millions of people--HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers--whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. These people are caught in bullshit jobs.

Graeber explores one of society's most vexing and deeply felt concerns, indicting among other villains a particular strain of finance capitalism that betrays ideals shared by thinkers ranging from Keynes to Lincoln. Bullshit Jobs gives individuals, corporations, and societies permission to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture. This book is for everyone who wants to turn their vocation back into an avocation.
Publisher: New York :, Simon & Schuster,, 2018
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781501143311
Characteristics: 333 pages ; 24 cm


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Nov 26, 2019

I am as skeptical about capitalism as the next damn socialist, but I found this book a bit short on actual information. Gaeber claims, based on “a large body of data” (exactly 374 testimonials from people who felt that their jobs were pointless) and a couple of polls (where about 38.5% of the respondents also felt that their jobs were pointless), that about half the jobs we do are useless. You’d need a much larger sample, and maybe something more than feelings, before making the claim that most jobs are bullshit. This theory building from a minimal amount of data (that and the amount of filler - many long quotes from the testimonials, and then tangents on the nature of time, morality of work, gender differences and on and on) finally got to me, so that by about page 120, I called BS and found something truly useful to read, an old Mad magazine.

OPL_DavidD Jul 17, 2019

Have you ever suspected that many jobs only exist for their own sake and don't contribute anything to society? This book is for you. Graebber discusses the impact these jobs have both on workers, and on culture at large.

May 06, 2019

Laborers whose jobs produce social value, such as the education of children, tend to receive less pay than those whose jobs do not. This is not an insight original to Graeber, but this book throws the observation into stark relief.

An alternate title: "10 Jobs You Won't Believe People Get Paid To Do!"

Mar 17, 2019

Did Graeber use some kind of algorithm to create a target for audience/buyers of the book. Sad stories of blamers, superficial sample of passivity and attitude of helplessness coming up the ranks in "workers" being currently being reared in GB and USA. Everyone wants the corner office without having to carry any water or pay any dues. No trophy's for doing your job. The book is sad and uninspiring. Alternate title: "How to passively approach your life" No job is bullshit if the money is real and you bring yourself to it willingly.

Mar 11, 2019

This book is a fascinating and very readable (it gets a bit bogged down in the middle third, but picks up again). “If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are squeezed and exploited. The reminder are divided between a terrorized stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class...but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value.” Highly recommended.

Jan 11, 2019

Add me to the list of those not able to get through this book. The premise is good and it starts off well - everybody has had a BS job sometime in their life. The author's view of a BS job is not one that is necessarily poor-paying, or menial. His view is that the higher-paying, fancy title jobs are more likely to be a BS job. Jobs where you are fairly well paid and don't do jack. Or jobs where you produce something that isn't of any value to anyone, but that the company wants. The book has passages that start causing me to lose interest - discussing feudal systems and the history of Puritan work ethic, etc.. In my mind if a job allows you to support your family and earn a living, you can tolerate it, it's decently ethical and doesn't drive you crazy with boredom, it's not a BS job.

Oct 31, 2018

I couldn't get through it. First, the rationale is that surely the existence of these jobs isn't economic, but short of spewing a few opinions from an anthropologist that aren't relevant to actual economic decisions in a real world marketplace, he provides zero support for his argument that economic necessity is not the reason for these jobs. Let's look at a few examples: private equity CEOs - what could be the possible value to an economy of people who match investors and companies looking for funding?; actuaries - you know, the people who keep our insurance industries solvent... want to see an economy collapse? bankrupt all the insurance companies so there is no protection whatsoever... clearly, Professor Graeber has zero understanding how economies work and what roles these jobs play in it. It seems he is an anthropology professor who had a friend tell him how garbage his job was, and he talked to a bunch of other people who were similarly dissatisfied with their jobs and turn it into an anti-market economy manifesto. Books like this I always read with a keen eye for assumption: when an author states something as fact, it causes me to ask "what evidence do you have to back that up?" When an author spews so much opinion while never backing it up - well, by the second chapter you're just not interested in reading it anymore. Save yourself the time and read the online rant that started it all, and ask yourself whenever he states something as fact, what evidence has he provided to support his assertion? You won't get halfway through without wanting to quit. https://strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/

Oct 30, 2018

Here is a link to the original article:

JessicaGma Oct 18, 2018

This is an expansion of the brilliant essay of 2013, and examines many BS jobs, some of which we have all held. It's absolutely soul crushing to look busy when there's nothing to do, and you know your job is useless....And it also seems a symptom of the times we live in as well. I look forward to more writing by Graeber in the future

Sep 29, 2018

Prof. Graeber is admittedly an anarchist and probably puts too much confidence in mans' character to do the morally right thing if only left to his own free will. An anarchist society is like playing baseball without a rule book and umpires. Still he offers a great deal in this book. If I collected books this one would be in my collection. Also includes surprisingly interesting endnotes and a decent bibliography. His book ends extolling the virtues of a guaranteed basic income ala Guy Standing. If you could keep the banksters away there might be something to this.

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