Book review: Meaningless work

Cover of Bullshit Jobs: A TheoryBullshit Jobs: A Theory
By David Graeber
Published by Allen Lane, £20
(Buy at Amazon)

Think your job is pointless and a waste of time? You might be right. In 2013, David Graeber, a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, wrote an essay wondering why, despite promises of great material wealth and leisure, we all seemed to be so busy with what seems like pointless work. The essay went viral and has now been expanded into this book.

But this is not a book for the fastidious, says David Goodhart in The Sunday Times. “There is no intellectual precision and there are almost no facts beyond obviously false anecdotal ones.” Even the people who contacted him with accounts of their work, which form the backbone of the text, “come across as clever people bored with their work” rather than people in employed in “bullshit jobs”.

“It is hard to imagine companies around the world have quietly conspired to subdue the mob by creating — or paying for — mountains of meaningless work,” agrees Pilita Clark in the Financial Times.

Indeed, some of the “mind-boggling” stories of corporate waste that he has sourced from his contributors are “sometimes difficult to believe”. Still, this remains a thought-provoking work “that captures the imagination and deserves our attention”.