Bullshit Jobs

A Theory

I am often reluctant to pick up books that started as a popular essay and were then expanded into a book-length work. There is a whole industry organized around taking perfectly good essays and padding and fluffing them up into works of two or three hundred pages, the result usually being less than the sum of its parts. But David Graeber had such a lithe and curious mind, I suppose I should never have worried he would succumb to that. Here, he takes his immensely popular essay of the same title as a provocation, from which he unspools a series of thoughtful questions and explorations. From his initial theory—that a huge number of professional-managerial jobs are bullshit—he weaves a compelling analysis, attending to just what counts as a bullshit job, why so many bullshit jobs exist, and what it means that we have become inured to their preponderance. It is a convincing, if distressing, theory. I dare anyone who works in a professional context not to recognize at least some of their own bullshit in these pages.