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Bullshit Jobs: New plague or the beginning of a revolution?

According to David Graeber, an anthropologist (a tad) anarchist, a bullshit job “is a job so useless, absurd, even harmful, that even the one who occupies it can not justify its existence.” Does this resonate with you? Don’t worry, you are not alone.

“Those who work at these (bullshit) jobs are often surrounded by honor and prestige, are respected and well paid”, notes Graeber. Obtain a paycheck by accomplishing nothing? What a bargain! Well, not really… His new essay, “Bullshit Jobs: a theory”, sheds light on the high moral and psychological cost paid by individuals with bulllshit jobs. Many workers fall into depression, which makes sense, when you consider that bullshit jobs are not only meaningless but also involve an untenable numbers of lies. Someone who occupies a bullshit job is often left with the impression that he’s deceiving society and selling his soul to the devil.

Graeber had already sounded the alarm back in 2013 in a shocking article for Strike! Magazine. In his more recent essay, he confirms with even further research and insight the existence of this phenomenon and accuses our current society of creating such jobs, as well as perpuating the belief that it’s better to have a usless job than no job at all…

So what’s the solution? Jean-Laurent Cassely suggests a possible reconversion to craft jobs in La révolte des premiers de la classe(Arkhê 2017), while others turn to happiness officers (a new form of bullshit job, perhaps?) to ensure the wellbeing of their employees. Graeber thinks we need to embrace a more radical change in values, or at least assert our true interests. Recognizing that you’re performing a bullshit job is the first step to identifying what you would you rather accomplish. In order to make change happen and stop complying with the current skewed and depressing system, we need this awareness.

Still a student, I was particulary sensitive to the subject. At the end of our studies, many of us tend to work for the first company ready to hire us – and usually end up regretting our decision. I’m not saying that we should be picky, but rather calling on my generation to make more intentional decisions… that make sense.


To learn more read: Bullshit jobs: why they exist and why you might have one by Sean Illing (Vox, 25 June 2018)

Buy the bookBullshit Jobs- a theory by David Graeber (Simon&Schuster, May 2018)









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Tagged with: sensemaking, job, anthropology
Lena Gaffuri
Published by Lena Gaffuri