In These Times interviews LSE professor David Graeber, author of the new book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. As he explains it, “A bullshit job is a job that the person doing it believes is pointless, and if the job didn’t exist it would either make no difference whatsoever or it would make the world a better.”
His 2013 article about the phenomenon got a lot of attention, and it looks like the book could be really good.
And Graeber sees explaining the rise and spread of bullshit jobs as the first step toward making work better. As he says:
With bullshit jobs, there is the idea that if you’re not working hard at something you don’t enjoy, then you’re a bad person and don’t deserve public relief. Those deeply rooted beliefs are the strongest weapons capitalism has.
The anthropologist’s role is to take things that seem natural and point out that they’re not, that they’re social constructs and that we could easily do things another way. It’s inherently liberating.