Posted on Leave a comment

Bullshit Jobs

It is always interesting to see what will pique people’s interest.

David Graeber, a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics wrote a short article titled On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs. To his amazement within a short while it was translated into 15 languages and students posted parts of it in London’s Underground on the walls. As a result Graeber decided to do more research on the topic and finally wrote a book with the title Bullshit Jobs.

Recently the book was discussed at the annual Hay (book) Festival in Wales. Hans Pienaar reported on Litnet that Graeber used social media to conduct a survey where he talked to people about their work.

According to the results,

37% of people in Britain believed that the work they do are meaningless while another 13% doubt whether their jobs have any significance.

Graeber believes that the more productive the work you do, the less you are paid. Many people reported that their family members have the impression that they are doing something important because they wear suits to work, while they feel that they actually do very little real productive work.

Some people even thought that the whole sector where they work, is of little significance. An important measure in Graeber’s research was whether the workers themselves believed that their work was meaningless. According to Graeber each person has a desire deep down to leave his or her mark on the world. To realise that that is not going to happen, can be very traumatic.

Think of one of Pharaoh’s servants keeping him cool by waving a palm leaf all day. The only significance he could find in his work was if he believed that the Pharaoh was a god and that he would receive eternal rewards of some kind. Almost like the people who worked for a low wage while building the huge cathedrals in Europe and were made to believe that they will inherit eternal life for their work.

# I believe that many so called “bullshit jobs” may not be sustainable in the long run. When the economy hits a downturn or we have a change in the structure of the economy such jobs very easily become obsolete.

Advances in technology also have a devastating effect on employment. Seth Godin argues that for any job that one can write a job description, it may be possible to write a computer programme to replace that job in the next 30 years. According to Godin the jobs that will remain are those that creative people will create for themselves.

This means that entrepreneurship will become increasingly important in the years to come. It is time for us to change our thinking from “where can I find a job?” to “what job can I create for myself?” We need to be pro-active and creative to be able to land jobs for ourselves and our children in the future.

If you have never spared a thought about being an entrepreneur, perhaps the time is now and the first question; what product or service to produce?

For a real head start in business, click here to join us at the Business by the Book course on 27 & 28 July 2018 at Val de Vie in Paarl.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *