What's a bullshit job? 3/4ths of all positions in services or admin, says David Graeber's new book


It's the cheekiest possible book title - but it has a serious argument beneath. David Graeber's Bullshit Jobs: A Theory is a provocative intervention in our current social debates about automation, welfare, leisure and the "tasks" that will make up a future working life. 

Graeber came to fame as the chronicler and theorist of the Occupy Movement, as well as a book on the last 5000 years of debt. But he's been making the case against Bullshit Jobs for a few years:

In a 2013 article called “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs”, [Graeber] argued that, in 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that by the end of the century technology would have advanced sufficiently that in countries such as the UK and the US we’d be on 15-hour weeks. “In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshalled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. Huge swaths of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they believe to be unnecessary. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.”

Which jobs are bullshit? “A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble. But it’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish.”

Graeber is an entertaining theorist - and his Baffler essays on the power of play and on why our innovation culture is so mediocre and dull are also worth reading.