Book Review: David Graeber ~ Bullsh*t Jobs: A Theory (2018)

Freakonomics (2005) unleashed populism amongst university professors. They realised they could sex up their academic work by judicious selection of the bizarre and get a best seller, fame and fortune. Graeber’s an LSE professor of anthropology has joined in. A catchy title and the zeitgiest of the age and lo! A best seller. Capitalism creating a shadow world of unemployment what an astonishing thought.

Bullsh*t Jobs focuses on jobs which if they disappeared no-one would notice. Graeber knows what he should do: Field work. Millions of global jobs end that aspiration and so he relies on hearsay, which he then cherry-picks. This isn’t sub-academic. It’s submarine-academic.

A few historical references and his own idiosyncratic experiences rounds off the endeavour. To be fair he was pushed out of Yale for the same reason that Socrates was executed so he’s in good company. His figures 8:1 – 8:4 (pp263-4) brilliantly summarise the dead hand of useless bureaucracy in universities. So this could be described as quasi-field work, which is a step forward without actually meeting normal research standards.

Bullsh*t Jobs is a terrific read and may even be true. The hours people spend, at work, on their Facebook pages is suggestive. Warmly recommended.

This entry was posted in Economics, Literature, Review, statistics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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