Book Review: Bullshit Jobs

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory

David Graeber

Adapted to a full-length book from his original essay “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant,”  

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory seeks to understand why we’re not all working 15 hours a week when technological

advances have rendered many traditional forms of labor irrelevant. The answer: we’ve created entire 

industries that are totally bullshit. From health administrators navigating needlessly complicated insurance 

bureaucracies to ballooning H.R. departments, entire industries have been created in order to give the 

middle management class something to do for 40-60 hours a week. And how do you know your job is 

bullshit? If everyone in your professional position went on strike, would anyone notice? If you answered, 

“no,” well then, you may very well have a bullshit job. In the book, Graeber mentions how striking subway 

workers and teachers cause a lot of harm when they strike. And that’s because they perform duties that 

are actually necessary to society — which is why the right and other reactionary forces so often criticize 

these workers. If, say, every single corporate lawyer went on strike, no one would even notice — hell, 

we may even be better off. Same for telemarketers and middle managers in just about any field. Their 

jobs do not help people, period. David Graeber expounds upon this at length, along with other related 

topics, such as the inhumanity of the welfare state, and how a universal basic income could benefit the 

entirety of society. As an anthropologist and co-founder of the Occupy movement, Graeber offers a 

perspective on the system of work that is sorely missing in the discourse of American politics.