Ever feel like your job is meaningless? You aren’t alone, according to anthropologist David Graeber, author of the book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory:

A bullshit job is one that even the person doing it secretly believes need not, or should not, exist. That if the job, or even the whole industry, were to vanish, either it would make no difference to anyone, or the world might even be a slightly better place.

Something like 37-40% of workers according to surveys say their jobs make no difference. Insofar as there’s anything really radical about the book, it’s not to observe that many people feel that way, but simply to say we should proceed on the assumption that for the most part, people’s self-assessments are largely correct. Their jobs really are just as pointless as they think they are.

As a thinker from the Left, he has different ideas on how to solve this problem than we might suggest, but he’s right to point to the problem. Meaningful work is a key ingredient to real happiness. As Graeber puts it: “People want to feel they are transforming the world around them in a way that makes some kind a positive difference.”

Read his full interview on the ramifications of meaningless work with The Economist here.

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