As an anthropologist, Graeber is less concerned with validating that statistic and more interested in exploring why so many people believe this about their own jobs. In doing so, he helps the reader better understand not just the nature of one’s own job, but jobs in general ... Reading through his taxonomy, one engages with what I believe to be the central pleasure of the book, trying to figure out whether you or people you know have jobs that fit these categories ... Reading Graeber’s book made me appreciate how fortunate I am. I can’t claim to do the most important work in the world, but I can report finding great personal satisfaction in the work I do.
Graeber is not an economist; he is an anthropologist who has done fieldwork in highland Madagascar and cops to being an anarchist who wants to see governments and corporations have less power. Yet his argument cries out for stronger economic evidence. Especially since an economist would find a number of flaws in it ... That’s not to say that Graeber’s argument is not without merit — in my own unscientific research, I encountered a few friends who said that their jobs fit his description perfectly. And Graeber’s anthropological eye and skepticism about capitalism are useful in questioning some parts of the economy that the West has come to accept as normal ... If nothing else, this book asks readers whether there might be a better way to organize the world of work. That’s a question worth asking.
As well as documenting personal misery, this book is a portrait of a society that has forgotten what it is for ... The problem with Bullshit Jobs is that the first two‑thirds is essentially an elaboration of his original, brilliant intervention. Graeber uses the hundreds of messages he received in response to his essay as source material, quoting testimonies at length. This puts the cart before the horse, and is also rather tiresome. I wanted to see the phenomenon traced back to its source ... Things pick up again in the final chapters, with the injection of salutary – and fascinating – lessons from history.