James Bloodworth

Terrible Work If You Can Get It

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory


Allen Lane 333pp £20 order from our bookshop

David Graeber has written a book about a problem that, as he puts it, ‘most people don’t even acknowledge to exist’. The problem is that of ‘bullshit jobs’, which Graeber defines as ‘a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence’.

Bullshit jobs proliferate under capitalism today. According to one YouGov poll cited by Graeber, 37 per cent of Britons believe that their job does not make a meaningful contribution to the world. Indeed, in its sheer tedium, work for many appears to resemble the job of Frits van Egters, the sardonic youth in Gerard Reve’s postwar novel The Evenings: ‘I work in an office. I take cards out of a file. Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again. That is it.’

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,