SISYPHUS, king of Corinth, was condemned for all eternity to push a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again. David Graeber, an anthropologist, thinks that many modern workers face the same fate today, forced to perform pointless tasks, or “bullshit jobs”, as his new book* calls them.
Mr Graeber defines a bullshit job as one “that is so completely pointless, unnecessary or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence”, though they may have to pretend that they believe in it. This definition, and indeed much of the book, combines two categories of roles. In the first are jobs that Mr Graeber tends to think are socially worthless, such as corporate lawyers or investment bankers. (Some of those workers may take an equally dim view of the utility of anthropologists.) In the second group are jobs where employees find themselves with little or nothing to do and, worse, must still look as if they are frantically busy.
What is his evidence? The...Continue reading