© 2020 KASU
webBanner_6-1440x90 - gradient overlay (need black logo).png
Your Connection to Music, News, Arts and Views for Over 60 Years
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
THANK YOU!! Under 10% remaining to raise in $45K KASU Fall Fund Drive. Become a sustainer today at $5/mo. Give through the KASU Mobile App or CLICK HERE.

BS Jobs: How Meaningless Work Wears Us Down

Anthropologist David Graeber says there's a perverse logic that has allowed pointless jobs to proliferate in many workplaces.
Anthropologist David Graeber says there's a perverse logic that has allowed pointless jobs to proliferate in many workplaces.

Have you ever had a job where you stopped and asked yourself: what am I doing here? If I quit tomorrow, would anyone even notice?

In 2013, anthropologist David Graeber wrote an article in which he described these types of positions as "bullshit jobs." He received a flood of responses from people for whom this label struck a chord — people who felt their work was, essentially, meaningless.

"People would say things like, 'Oh my God, it's true. I'm a corporate lawyer. I contribute nothing to humanity, I'm just miserable all the time.' I realized this was a much larger phenomenon than I had imagined," he says.

Graeber says the stories he heard from workers are reinforced by recent surveys. In 2015, YouGov, a market research company, conducted a poll in London to understand how British workers felt about their jobs. Londoners were asked, "Is your job making a meaningful contribution to the world?" Thirty-seven percent of respondents said no. Graeber believes the number is probably higher than that. This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam talks with Graeber about the rise of bullshit jobs and how these positions can affect the people who hold them.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.