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Bullshit Jobs

A Theory
Written by: David Graeber
Narrated by: Christopher Ragland
Length: 12 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From best-selling 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 17 different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer. 

There are millions of people - HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers - whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. These people are caught in bullshit jobs. Graeber explores one of society’s most vexing and deeply felt concerns, indicting among other villains a particular strain of finance capitalism that betrays ideals shared by thinkers ranging from Keynes to Lincoln. 

Bullshit Jobs gives individuals, corporations, and societies permission to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture. This book is for everyone who wants to turn their vocation back into an avocation.

©2018 David Graeber (P)2018 Simon & Schuster Audio

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Enjoyed

I’m writing this review because I really enjoyed listening to this book. So much of what is discussed here is what I’ve been thinking about for the past twenty years. Ever since I first started working. Above all it is an interesting topic that needs to be discussed more.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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BS jobs

How true the analyzes are. The system is trying to stay alive but will fail

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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It opened my eyes for the problem

I loved the book, it opened my eyes for the problem. The data and testimonials that he presents is not very representative, but we can't ignore the existence and importance of the problem. I got lost in one or two chapters where I think the author was repeating himself too much, but I recommend the read/listening of the whole book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting concepts- a bit opinionated

The overall idea-- that there are bullshit jobs-- is an interesting one. The underlying thesis, however, is that these jobs are largely stemming from finance and that we live in a managerial feudal state wherein all the wealthy people secretly despise and, simultaneously, envy the working class.

The author will lead in to many sections with genuinely interesting ideas, but rapidly break in to a load of clearly communist ideology without skipping a beat. The pattern got old pretty quickly.

Worth a listen as they are novel ideas worth discussing. I was not, personally, sold on the Marxism.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • YaHya
  • 2018-12-21

The main idea doesn't require a full book

I have a great respect to the points raised by the author. nevertheless it didn't require a full book as the main idea kept coming up again and again. it became boring

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Morgan
  • 2018-10-22

Great perspective on how the world is really run

This was a great listen, although a little tough to hear sometimes, consider I have a full-time bullshit job.

Only criticism is Ragland using accents and changing his pitch when quoting people sourced in the book.

Universal basic income!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew Palmer
  • 2018-09-28

Don't be fooled by the "pop" look of the cover

This book goes deeper into its subject than the title or cover would lead you to believe. Graeber starts with examples of people who have bullshit jobs, a working definition of a bullshit job, then builds to a larger structural analysis of the societal forces that caused the proliferation of jobs which are economically wasteful but useful from a perspective of the holders of power. He also takes this analysis to a broader view of theories of value, accessibly presenting the labor theory of value and how it's been seen over the years. He concludes with a possible solution, or at least a stopgap to address the problem. Overall, I found the material very well presented and personally cathartic.

The reader's great too. He very much didn't do a bullshit job.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel Franco
  • 2019-06-24

Chapter 2 and maybe 3 are the only ones worth listening to.

Chapter 1 spends entirely too much time and too many unnecessary words giving definition to a bullshit job. Chapter 2 is actually worthwhile because it explains the five kinds of bullshit jobs. Chapter 3 might be worthwhile , not because it sheds any new light on anything (It’s such a surprise to hear that bullshit jobs are psychologically and emotionally draining/s) but because it triggers empathy from hearing the terrible tales of the author’s respondents. The rest of the book is a just an academic wank session.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 2019-04-10

Not a bullshit book.

This book is in no sense bullshit.

It is composed of detailed accounts from people performing jobs that they percieve as meaningless. Accounts that are explored and analysed by Graeber to a masterful degree. With quantitative data to back up his qualitative exploration David creates a powerful narrative where he estimates that about 50% of all labour in the west is unecessary. An estimate that paints a bleak picture of how our society functions and must produce work wether it is useful or not.

After feeling unhappy at my workplace for quite some time I just managed to put the finger on why. I learned that my job is almost completely bullshit, composed of advanced forms of box ticking and some duct taping. I won't say if this revelation is correlated or causal to reading this book. But I will say that I recommend the read to anyone that reads this review, their relatives and friends.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jason Huitt
  • 2019-03-13

Required Reading

This book put into words what I have felt for years. David Graeber plumbs the noxious depths of a very insidious part of late-stage capitalism: a job that exists so that you can have a job that exists. It is no hyperbole to say that Graeber offers us up the real dystopia. So let's fight it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David B.
  • 2018-05-29

feeling like an ant under a magnifying lens

this book shines an at times uncomfortable light on the bullshittery that comprises most office work today.

the breakdown of BS work into sub-categories makes it easier to separate what is useful from what is, essentially, fluff designed to pad out a bloated work day. My only wish is for some follow-up with meaningful action one can take to reduce the amount of useless activities, or at least reclaim that time for more personally fulfilling endeavors. While a great conversation starter to talk about the greater issues that society faces, individuals need some kind of action plan to help extricate themselves from the honey trap of a BS job.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • HungryHippo
  • 2018-07-29

Premise and theory ok....but it just drags on and on. PLUS a cringe-worthy narration.

The original article that Graeber wrote in 2013 was eye-opening and left me wanting for a deeper dive. That’s what I expected this book to be. After 5 years of research and countless testimonials, Bullshit Jobs, achieved nothing more than redundant corroborations to the original article’s premise. By five chapters in, I felt as if I wasn’t learning anything new. Just got more examples of the same. However, still, the theory and examination of a workforce that has been broken by bullshittery is a fun and interesting endeavor in itself. It just didn’t require such a long strung book to back it up.

To boot...this particular narration of the book is what made me first lose interest. The narrator (a male) takes the liberty in employing a quasi-falsetto female voice when a woman’s testimonial is being presented. This is not only distracting, but even worse it leaves me with a cringy second-hand embarrassment I didn’t expect to bare while listening to an academic book.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Rob
  • 2019-03-10

The best book I've read this year.

Ive spent 3 years at a major international bank as a manager and am currently a Government employee. When I tell you this book is as well researched as it is entertaining, I hope you'll believe me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jordan Burton
  • 2018-12-21

Incredibly disappointing...

I am at a loss. I can't conceive of how anyone would view this book as a convincing critique of the failures of the labor market. It is the first book I have returned for a refund in many years.

For anyone with a basic understanding of economics, this book is likely to leave you frustrated and confused. Having spent the lion's share of my career helping organizations root out waste and inefficiency, I can say from personal experience that there is a tremendous amount of bullshit to go around. Without question, we undervalue certain roles and overvalue others, and our economic system creates massive inefficiencies and unnecessary work. There are so many interesting, nuanced stories to be told about misaligned incentives and the negative side-effects of market forces. I was eagerly waiting for this book to shed light on what's really going on. Unfortunately, Bullshit Jobs does not tackle the real issues at any depth, nor does it offer anything approaching a compelling analysis of the root causes. Instead, the author is content to wildly over-extrapolate surveys and anecdotes from disgruntled employees to manufacture a simplistic narrative that paints nearly half of the labor pool as fundamentally unnecessary. If this were remotely reflective of reality, my job would be a cake walk.

I looked over the author's bio, and I can only assume that he has never actually worked in a company. Perhaps he has, but I am not sure where and when. That may be forgivable for an academic, but I saw no evidence that he did any real on-site, in-person analysis of actual workplace behavior. His most convincing examples of wasted effort involve edge-cases from public sector employees in Europe, and/or were drawn from emails from individuals who would obviously be predisposed to agree with him. These anecdotes were happily projected across the entire global economy, and positioned as self-evident thereafter.

If you want to understand why our economic system is failing to deliver fulfillment and prosperity among the masses, there are plenty of rigorous, insightful, data-driven books to review from individuals who have real expertise. I would recommend Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century as a powerful counterpoint to this book. This book is essentially a blog-run-amok--a weak attempt to turn a viral essay into a manifesto without any deep diligence or curiosity.

Let's get curious about what is really going on. Let's dive deep, let's understand the facts. We can do better than this.

13 of 19 people found this review helpful