Episode 63 - Busy Work

Some 37% of workers believe their jobs are pointless, and if we include the jobs that exist to serve those pointless jobs in some way, it's possible that half of the jobs in our economy today (mostly residing in the informational sectors of white-collar work) could disappear with no ill-consequences. In this episode we read and hear from listener-submitted examples of pointless jobs, explore the nature and causes of this phenomenon as outlined in David Graeber's book on the subject, and imagine a world where such pointless assaults on our soul can't happen.

full transcript available

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  • 07:29 Our Own BS Jobs
  • 18:24 What are the definitions and categories of BS jobs?
  • 31:09 Even More BS Jobs
  • 47:47 Concepts about these BS jobs
  • 1:00:13 BS jobs responsible for social media?
  • 1:06:07 Why do BS jobs proliferate? What are the structures?
  • 1:19:55 Bringing it all home; policies to support; what we can do

Recommended Reading




Submitted stories


@misc{Bob Black_1985, title={The Abolition of Work}, url={https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bob-black-the-abolition-of-work}, abstractNote={Bob Black The Abolition of Work}, author={Bob Black}, year={1985} } @misc{David Graeber_2012, title={Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit}, url={https://thebaffler.com/salvos/of-flying-cars-and-the-declining-rate-of-profit}, journal={The Baffler}, author={David Graeber}, year={2012}, month={Mar} } @misc{David Graeber_2013, title={STRIKE! Magazine – On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs}, url={https://strikemag.org}, journal={STRIKE! Magazine}, author={David Graeber}, year={2013}, month={Aug} } @misc{Federal Student Aid_2017, title={Federal Work-Study jobs help students earn moeny to pay for college or career school}, url={https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/work-study}, journal={Federal Student Aid}, author={Federal Student Aid}, year={2017}, month={Aug} } @article{Gershon_2018, title={Employing the CEO of Me, Inc.: US corporate hiring in a neoliberal age}, volume={45}, ISSN={1548-1425}, DOI={10.1111/amet.12630}, number={2}, journal={American Ethnologist}, author={Gershon, Ilana}, year={2018}, pages={173–185} } @article{Graeber_2006, title={Turning Modes of Production Inside Out: Or, Why Capitalism is a Transformation of Slavery}, volume={26}, ISSN={0308-275X}, DOI={10.1177/0308275X06061484}, number={1}, journal={Critique of Anthropology}, author={Graeber, David}, year={2006}, month={Mar}, pages={61–85} } @book{Graeber_2018, place={New York}, title={Bullshit Jobs: A Theory}, ISBN={978-1-5011-4331-1}, publisher={Simon & Schuster}, author={Graeber, David}, year={2018}, month={May} } @misc{Scott Alexander_2018a, title={Basic Income, Not Basic Jobs: Against Hijacking Utopia}, url={https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/05/16/basic-income-not-basic-jobs-against-hijacking-utopia/}, journal={Slate Star Codex}, author={Scott Alexander}, year={2018}, month={May} } @misc{Scott Alexander_2018b, title={Bulls**t Jobs (Part 1 of ∞)}, url={https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/08/29/bullst-jobs-part-1-of-%e2%88%9e/}, journal={Slate Star Codex}, author={Scott Alexander}, year={2018}, month={Aug} } @misc{Suzi Weissman_2018, title={Welcome to the world of “flunkies, goons, duct-tapers, box-tickers, task-makers, and bean-counters.”}, url={https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2018/07/08/welcome-to-the-world-of-flunkies-goons-duct-tapers-box-tickers-task-makers-and-bean-counters/}, journal={Bella Caledonia}, author={Suzi Weissman}, year={2018}, month={Jul} } @article{Thompson_1967, title={Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism}, ISSN={0031-2746}, number={38}, journal={Past & Present}, author={Thompson, E. P.}, year={1967}, month={Dec}, pages={56–97} }

Published 28-02-2019 00:30