Summary of an Article on Bullshit Jobs
There is another scholar doing research on a question I have been asking for years.
Why after thousands of years of civilization, with all our modern technology and complex sociology and even despite higher educations, do most of us have less ‘free time’ than ever before? It does seem as though we are slaves to the ‘machine’ of the systems of society.
“Rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the ‘service’ sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones. These are what I propose to call ‘bullshit jobs.’ what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed”; but the way things are does serve the 1%, and a simmering resentment is fostered against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value or appeal. “It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days.”
– David Graeber is a Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. His most recent book is, ‘The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement’.