David Graeber about bullshit jobs | VPRO Documentary

What is a bullshit job, and who has a bullshit job? Do you think that your work has no sense? Then you likely have a bullshit job, that does not bring any satisfaction or any other benefit. In this documentary vpro and American anthropologist, David Graeber looks more closely at bullshit jobs, why they exist, and what they do with us.

More than twenty percent of working people in the West have the idea that what they do makes no sense at all. Yet they work themselves into an accident and earn billions together. Why don’t we just quit those bullshit jobs?

There are even people who know for sure that their work is not contributing. Sometimes their work goes against all their principles. It is work that if it were not done, nobody would miss it. The world would be even better if the work were not done.

The phenomenon “bullshit job” was put on the map by the American anthropologist David Graeber. The image he paints explains a lot of contemporary phenomena, which economists, sociologists and political scientists have previously been unaware of. The expanding bureaucracy in companies, for example, where nothing or nobody becomes more effective or productive. According to Graeber, today’s managerial culture is a new feudal system, within which top managers build their kingdoms under the flag of efficiency. The building blocks are useless departments where people lose their way.

But there are (former) employees that are no longer willing to go on with their bullshitjobs. They have left behind their work at the government, in companies or multinationals. Their work, they say, makes no sense. They paint a shocking picture of an office garden in which the employee’s most important task is to play a role in the bullshit puppet show. How long do we still believe in paid work as the highest attainable goal in life?

Original title: Mijn Bullhsitbaan

Director: Roland Duong
Research: Henneke Hagen
Camera: Hans Bouma, Jelle Dijkstra, Adri Schrover
Sound: Jochem Salemink
Edit: Rinze Schuurman
Research pictures: Rob Dorresteijn
Online composition: Arja van den Bergh
Production: Marie Schutgens

Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2019.
© VPRO Backlight March 2019

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