MANY PEOPLE feel, from time to time, that their work is meaningless. David Graeber, the late anthropologist, built a fancy thesis out of this insight. He argued in a book in 2018 that society has been deliberately producing increasingly more “bullshit jobs” in occupations such as monetary services to fill the time of educated workers who need the cash to settle student debts but who suffer from depression due to the fact that of their work. His thesis has been cited more than 800 times by academics, according to Google Scholar, and frequently repeated in the media.
When the book came out, this writer was not impressed, arguing that the thesis was a partial reworking of the insights of C. Northcote Parkinson, who argued that administration has an inherent propensity to broaden and make work for itself. 3 academics– Magdalena Soffia, Alex Wood and Brendan Burchell– have actually carried out a methodical analysis of the claims behind Mr Graeber’s work and discovered that the information often show the specific opposite of what he anticipated. The bullshit-jobs thesis, in other words, is mostly bullshit.
In his book, Mr Graeber relied heavily on studies of British and Dutch employees that asked individuals whether their task made a meaningful contribution to the world. This seems a high bar to clear; it is unsurprising that 37-40%of participants believed their task didn’t …
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