In 2013, anthropologist David Graeber published an article in Strike! Magazine titled "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs." The article went viral and struck a chord with many people who felt that their jobs were meaningless and did not contribute anything of value to society. Graeber expanded on his ideas in his 2018 book, "Bullshit Jobs: A Theory," which explores the rise of meaningless jobs in modern society.
Graeber defines 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." He argues that these jobs exist not because they are necessary but because they serve a symbolic function of reinforcing the belief in the moral virtue of work.
According to Graeber, bullshit jobs come in many forms. There are the "flunkies" who serve no purpose other than to make their bosses feel important, the "goons" who do jobs that are essentially harmful to society, and the "duct tapers" who exist to fix problems that wouldn't exist if their job didn't exist in the first place.
One of the main causes of bullshit jobs, Graeber argues, is the expansion of bureaucracy in modern society. As organisations grow larger and more complex, they require more managers, administrators, and support staff to keep everything running. However, many of these jobs are redundant and could be eliminated without any impact on the organisation's productivity.
Another factor contributing to the rise of bullshit jobs is the emphasis on "productive" work in modern society. We have come to value jobs that produce tangible goods or services while undervaluing jobs that contribute to the well-being of society in more intangible ways, such as caring for the elderly or volunteering in the community.
Graeber's book has sparked much debate and controversy since its publication. Some people argue that the concept of bullshit jobs is overblown and that even if a job seems meaningless, it may still serve a purpose in the larger scheme of things. Others have pointed out that the rise of bullshit jobs may be a symptom of a larger problem with our economic system, which values profit over people.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, "Bullshit Jobs" is a thought-provoking book that challenges us to rethink our assumptions about work and its place in society. It raises important questions about the purpose of work, the nature of productivity, and the role of the individual in the larger social and economic system.