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Bullshit Jobs: A Theory

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  10,315 ratings  ·  1,551 reviews
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 s
Hardcover, 335 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Simon & Schuster
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David Ask the publicist! (i.e., I didn't write that).

Me, I don't think anyone needs permission, obviously, I think what they were trying to convey was more …more
Ask the publicist! (i.e., I didn't write that).

Me, I don't think anyone needs permission, obviously, I think what they were trying to convey was more "encouragement" - i.e., if you think there's something terribly wrong, well, actually, you're probably right, and a lot of other people think exactly the same thing, you're not alone, maybe we can all get together and do something.(less)

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You need to get hold of this book. I’ve been recommending it to just about everyone I know.

The author was asked by a new journal / magazine if he would write an article that would be a bit controversial and so he wrote one about how so many people today work in bullshit jobs – and then the journal’s website crashed as a million people went about downloading the article.

I was a bit worried when I started this book because I really don’t like shaming people for the work they do. You know, it’s b
Mario the lone bookwolf
There are 2 huge categories of bullshit jobs, the once we already know about, representative jobs, bureaucrats, people working not even part of the time they are at the workplace, all those professions people tend to see as great if one is lazy, or as depressing if one wants to do something productive, and as a good reason for envy if someone has a real, hard, full-time job with stress and not knowing how to do this all in just 40 hours a week.

The other, hidden, part of bullshit jobs is strong
Roy Lotz
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Economies around the world have, increasingly, become vast engines for producing nonsense.

Reading this was cathartic. Like so many people, I, too, have experienced the suffering that is a useless job—a job that not only lacks any real benefit to society, but which also does not even benefit the company. (Lucky for me, I am now a teacher, which, for all its unpleasant aspects, almost never feels useless.) Even though I got a lot of reading and writing done on the job, the feeling of total fut
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
This made my day :) It's definitely a fav forever. Quirky and cool.

We start rating calc at 5 star max.

> Some of the things innovative. Seriously, have my star drives never been built because people around the world have been too busy creating BS PPTs and simply had no time to spend building devices for my space travel? F***!!!!!!! (+1 star)

> Other points felt like BS themselves and made me feel that the author misses the point a bit:
1. If people are ok being with themselves, on their own, with
Otto Lehto
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is about how some jobs are worthless and don't need to exist. Perhaps this book itself is a good example of a worthless job that didn't need to be done and doesn't need to exist?

I like David Graeber. His book "Debt" was phenomenal. The book, however, is far from his best. It expands on the short 2013 essay, "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs," which is still a provocation worth reading. But it didn't need to be expanded into a book. So the worst part of the book is that it is complete
I so appreciated this book for making me think hard about jobs and why they exist. David Graeber focuses Bullshit Jobs: A Theory on the origins and implications of bullshit jobs, or jobs that do not serve any real purpose in society. He does an excellent job describing how these jobs perpetuate capitalism by keeping people employed for the sake of keeping people employed, as well as how these jobs negatively affect people’s psychological well-being. Graeber draws thoughtful and relevant connecti ...more
“We could easily all be putting in a twenty – or even fifteen-hour workweek. Yet for some reason, we as a society have collectively decided it’s better to have millions of human beings spending years of their lives pretending to type into spreadsheets or preparing mind maps for PR meetings than freeing them to knit sweaters, play with their dogs, start a garage band, experiment with new recipes or sit in cafés arguing about politics, and gossiping about their friends’ complex polyamorous love af ...more
David Wineberg
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Facebook Salvation for BS Jobholders

The astounding number of hours spent weekly by social media users is a direct result of bullshit jobs, says David Graeber, in his book of the same name. In this context, the average smartphone being consulted 221 times a day is no longer unbelievable. Graeber has uncovered a whole new field for research: jobs where nothing real happens.

We often think of neoliberalism as the era when companies are lean and mean, all the fat is excised and operations optimized.
Tom Quinn
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
What would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it's obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dockworkers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science-fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. (xxi)

You had me at "ska musicians." But our author pivots quickly:

Writing this book also serve
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having read and even cited [for a piece on the rise of extreme endurance sports over the past century] Graeber's original essay in Strike magazine, I eagerly preordered this book. I read it with a kind of surreptitious glee while attending college curriculum meetings and during my usual 4-hour commute, some days just go to said meetings, which consisted of adults with PhDs commenting on font size and whether to use the word "show" versus "demonstrate." But I digress.

It takes a lot for me at thi
Aris Catsambas
Sep 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Concise summary: the book is a 280-page too long rambling mess consisting of half-baked ideas & inconsequential anecdotes. The author is political where there is no call for politics, and philosophically & mathematically inept.

I was planning to write a long critique, but I realised that to write an exhaustive review of everything that is wrong with the book I would need to write one of longer length. Instead, I will point out that the book goes off the mark starting with the very definition of a
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So I wasn't sold on the first half of this book--the diagnosis of bullshit jobs. But the last half or third, I read like 5 times because it's Graeber at his best--diagnosing the bullshit in the ways we talk about the economy and money and debt. The reason I didn't love the diagnosis is because I think someone being miserable in their work is so human and so expansive that it's just the human condition--we are all unhappy. However, what does the proliferation of finance do to businesses and the b ...more
Daniel Clausen
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2020
Before there was this book, the concept of “bullshit jobs” was examined extensively in a popular American film. I present to you “Office Space” (1999) -

Watch the movie if you have a bullshit job!

I'll never forget this moment in 2006. I was working in Japan for a kid's English school. For that day, it was my job to pass out flyers for about two hours after I was done teaching. As I passed out flyers, I stood across from a woman who was wearing a sign made
Dan Connors
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-books
This is an eye-opening and subversive book, and changed the way I look at jobs. Politicians and economists are always touting how great jobs are- jobs can fix anything and make capitalism work like a charm. This book questions that assumption.

I'm giving this book five out of five stars because it opens up a new topic and asks strong questions that have not before been considered.

The definition of a bullshit job, in the author's opinion, is "a form of employment that is so completely pointless, u
Manuel Antão
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Gravity Shit Field vs. Bullshit People: "Bullshit Jobs - A Theory" by David Graeber

Another stupid book that does not say anything new…

Bullshit jobs? How about stupid people doing stupid things?

Is a window cleaner a bullshit job?? Graeber things it is. If a windows cleaner doesn’t do it we would really be up shit creek - I imagine there are millions in the same boat. Firstly, clean windows are always uplifting - letting light into the r
The Good:
Engaging a wider audience:
--What I appreciate most with Graeber’s books is his ability to take emancipatory history and theory, and play (there is no better word to describe the action) with ways to present them in accessible, engaging, and meaningful thought-experiments/narratives for a general audience (esp. in rich countries). Another review described the results succinctly as “[making] the strange, familiar, and the familiar, strange.”
--I like to think this is a principle of anarchi
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
In 2013, David Graeber published a captivating essay in Strike Magazine about the phenomenon of "Bullshit Jobs" (link: The basic thesis was that entire industries employing tens of millions of people had been created that serve no purpose whatsoever. These jobs could all cease existing tomorrow without the broader society being affected at all, except perhaps for the better. Sprawlingly amorphous fields like the "financial services industry" employ countles ...more
I have worked many bullshit jobs. I will work them in the future. This is what you do if you're of a certain caste. Notice I said caste not class, for a reason.

Simply put, this is a rallying cry, and should be treated as such. I really wish there was some more substantive data here, but I prefer to think of Graeber's style as polemical rather than academic, and books like this are what change public opinion, at the end of the day, and I want him to receive an audience.

Not because it's groundbrea
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maybe from confirmation bias, or maybe from that love that misery finds through good company, I was gravitationally attracted to Prof. Graeber’s work on b.s. jobs. To begin, my credentials: I’m quite familiar with white collar b.s. work since in my 25-year career in finance, I spent the last seven years or so, owing to a politically motivated demotion (more politely announced as a reorganization), truly working for only around one hour a week on average. Since I was an established member of the ...more
Eric Lin
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. I loved Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and hoped for something closer to that, where Respected Anthropologist David Graeber walks us through the evolution of labor, and explains how we arrived at our current model. Unfortunately, we got David Graeber, "Researcher"* who spends the first half of his book reading comments and emails from people who read his original article in Strike! magazine, and the second half of his article trying to taxonomize, opine, conject, and ho ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
"This is not a book about a particular solution. It's a book about a problem . . . I hesitate to make policy suggestions . . . " -- page 270 (now he tells us -- with only fifteen pages left in the book!)

Bullshit Jobs has a great attention-grabbing, provocative title and some occasionally good stories from the interviewees who are all too aware that their various jobs are, well . . . see the title. However, this probably worked much better in its original format as an online article. Author Graeb
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When ‘Bullshit Jobs’ was published, I initially wasn’t particularly eager to read it as I gathered it contained material familiar from Graeber’s previous work: an essay in Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire, his book The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy, and his initial article on the titular topic. Despite the clear structure, it outlines a looser theory than his other work, based on internet ethnography of uncertain representa ...more
J. Sebastian
Jun 12, 2020 marked it as giveaway  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tbr
This book rubs salt into old wounds; it chips away at all my illusions of self-importance, and increases my doubts about how I have chosen to spend my life. Though I am paid very well, I have always felt unessential in the grand scheme of things. There is good reason that spiritually, emotionally, personally unfulfilling and unrewarding work should command higher wages––in essence the worker barters his life away in what he does––but it has often bothered me (like a thorn in the side) that after ...more
Carrie Poppy
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Made me want to read more by him. Also we should just give people money so they can stop ruining the world with the aching need to produce. OK anyway goodbye.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about my life. My bullshit job started in high school - I had to do stuff that was neither useful nor interesting (memorizing), while being under constant sadistic supervision. So I learned how to fake it, trying to use my time (while faking it) more productively - I learned to write with my left hand (I'm right-handed) in a mirror-like fashion. Not useful, but at least if was something to do with my frustrated brain.

So I worked hard at faking it and then played hard by partying
Dec 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Bullshit book based largely on anecdotal "evidence" and a small sample size of lazy, uninspired people who whine about being unfulfilled, but are too comfortable to actually change jobs or voluntarily seek out new challenges in their present roles. The author appears to carry a deep animus towards lawyers, financial types and seemingly anyone who is more successful or makes more money than him. On the other hand, people who have "real" jobs (read: mostly blue collar type work) are the genuine ge ...more
David Buccola
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Graeber continues to shine as one of the most provocative thinkers alive. “Bullshit Jobs” is larger exposition of his essay from a few years ago: “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.” It’s a book I’ve been looking forward to since that essay was published back in 2013, and I was not disappointed. This is a book that every working person should read.

I’ll begin with Graeber’s definition of a Bullshit Job. It should be noted that shit jobs and Bullshit Jobs are not the same thing. Here is how
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber is a book about the numerous occupations that exist for the seeming singular purpose of occupying a person’s time without any tangible or intangible benefit for society. Sort of. What this book truly is about is Graeber’s complaints and rants about life in an imperfect world where the activity that people spend most of their time on, their job, has a number of elements that they only put up with because they are paid to do them. To illustrate his point, G ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I strongly recommend this book. BS jobs are just a consequence of the rise of the finance capitalism in last 30-40 years. Through the system, Graeber termed 'managerial feudalism', new managerial cast arose whose only purpose (at least as I understood it) is to complicate the whole economic game in order to cover its real nature. Feudalism is, basically, redistributive system in which spheres of politics' and the economy intermingle and they are inseparable 'because the goods are extracted throu ...more
Margarita Garova
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was the answer to my prayers of a frustrated and disillusioned “young professional”. It explores the proliferation of bullshit jobs, a relatively recent phenomenon used by Graeber to describe meaningless occupation created for the sake of keeping people busy but of no social value or benefit to society whatsoever.
David Graeber is a social anthropologist who published an essay on the topic of such occupations as early as 2013 which caused quite a stir in the form of personal accounts a
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David Rolfe Graeber was an American anthropologist and anarchist.

On June 15, 2007, Graeber accepted the offer of a lectureship in the anthropology department at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he currently holds the title of Reader in Social Anthropology.

He was an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University, although Yale controversially declined to rehire him, and his t

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“We have become a civilization based on work—not even “productive work” but work as an end and meaning in itself.” 38 likes
“Shit jobs tend to be blue collar and pay by the hour, whereas bullshit jobs tend to be white collar and salaried.” 26 likes
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