more on "bullshit jobs"

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David Graeber, writes In These Times, "kept running into professional managers who didn't seem to do much:"

Graeber developed a suspicion that this was rather common and, in 2013, wrote an essay for Strike! magazine, "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs." [see here] It was just a hypothesis--halfway a joke--but the piece was translated into at least a dozen languages and reprinted all over the internet, where it elicited floods of comments from people saying: "I have a bullshit job."

A subsequent YouGov survey found that 37 percent of British workers believe their job makes no "meaningful contribution to the world"--more than Graeber expected. So, he dug deeper, soliciting testimonials and researching the political, cultural and economic structures that encourage millions of people to effectively waste 40 hours a week. The result is Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, a playful and provocative take on what he calls "a scar across our collective soul." In These Times spoke to Graeber about the jobs problem, its causes and the future of capitalism.

From the interview:

It's striking how much people report hating their bullshit job.

DG: They're miserable! Two or three people said they kind of like their bullshit jobs, but the overwhelming majority, they're sick all the time. They talk about depression, they talk about complex illnesses, psychological and physical and immune problems that all clearly have to do with tension and anxiety and depression.

And also they're mean to each other. They scream at each other. The more meaningless the work, the more people suffer doing it and the worse they treat each other.

Does this unhappiness indicate something more fundamental?

DG: Psychologist Karl Groos used this phrase, and it always struck me, "the pleasure of being a cause." When children first realize that when they knock something over, they can do it again in the same way and it will have the same result, there is a kind of pure joy and happiness. This becomes the basis of your sense of agency and sense of self for the rest of your life.

"When you deprive children of that agency," he continues, "they almost feel catatonic:"

That shows we are creatures who need projects of transforming the world around us. If we can't do that, we hardly exist.

So this theory of human nature promulgated by economists and right-wing politicians that people basically want something for nothing--that if you just give them money they're going to laze around and watch TV and get drunk all day--it's not true.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 10, 2018 10:45 PM.

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