Booked: Imagining a World with No Bullshit Jobs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/08/2018 - 2:28am in


Jobs, Labor

As many as half of the jobs we do could be considered pointless, estimates anthropologist David Graeber. How did so many of these jobs come to exist, and what does it mean for labor activists?

Imagining A World With Bo Bullshit Jobs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/08/2018 - 6:00am in


Jobs, unions

In this interview about his latest book, David Graeber discusses the role of unions, the challenges posed by automation and “the revolt of the caring classes.” Is your job pointless? Do you feel that your position could be eliminated and everything would continue on just fine? Maybe, you think, society would even be a little better off if your job never existed? If your answer to these questions is “yes,” then take solace. You are not alone. As much as half the work that the working population engages in every day could be considered pointless, says David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and author of Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.

Stagnation Nation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/07/2018 - 5:00pm in

Real wages since 2006 are down - and getting much worse. But hey, look on the bright side!

Tahko from Helsinki to Bristol

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/06/2018 - 10:23pm in


Jobs, philosophy

Tuomas Tahko, currently University Lecturer in Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki, will be moving to the University of Bristol.

Dr. Tahko specializes in  metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophical logic. He will be taking up his new position, as Reader in Metaphysics of Science, in September, 2018.

This move also means that the 2-million euro European Research Council Consolidator Grant that Dr. Tahko won in 2017 (previously) to support a project on the metaphysical unity of science, will move to Bristol. The project will last for five years, also starting in September 2018 (for which three 4-year postdocs and a PhD student in the areas of metaphysics and philosophy of science will be brought on).

The post Tahko from Helsinki to Bristol appeared first on Daily Nous.

Fallis & Mathiesen from Arizona to Northeastern

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/06/2018 - 4:52pm in


Jobs, philosophy

Don Fallis and Kay Mathiesen, philosophers currently at the University of Arizona’s School of Information, have accepted offers from the Department of Philosophy at Northeastern University.

Professor Fallis works in epistemology, information ethics, and the philosophy of math. He calls his research area “adversarial epistemology,” and has written extensively on lying and deception.

Professor Mathiesen works in information and computer ethics, social and political philosophy, and social epistemology. She is currently working on a project called “Informational Justice.”

They take up their new positions at Northeastern in the fall.

(via Branden Fitelson)

The post Fallis & Mathiesen from Arizona to Northeastern appeared first on Daily Nous.

Immigrants Create Jobs for US Workers, Boost the U.S. Employment Rate

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/05/2018 - 6:00am in


immigration, Jobs

When immigrants bring their skills to the U.S. labor market, everyone—immigrants and native-born workers alike—benefit from their company. Research has repeatedly shown that native-born workers are advantaged by the presence of immigrant workers in the labor market. A new report from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) adds to this growing body of research. Specifically, the report finds that immigrants have no negative effect on the unemployment rate or labor force participation rate of native-born Americans. The presence of more immigrants in the labor force is associated with a small but undeniable increase in the labor force participation rate of natives, NFAP concludes. Likewise, more immigrant workers correspond with a small decline in the unemployment rate of the native-born.

Ken Livingstone Talks about his Resignation from the Labour Party due to Anti-Semitism Smears

On Monday, Ken Livingstone resigned from the Labour party. He had been suspended from the party following the smears that he was an anti-Semite and had claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. This was completely untrue. As Red Ken goes on to say in the interview with RT, he never claimed that Hitler was a Zionist, only that he briefly supported Zionism. It is abundantly clear if you read Livingstone’s 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, that a racist of any stripe is the very last thing the former head of the GLC is. He makes it very clear that he is firmly opposed to anti-Semitism as well as anti-Black and anti-Irish racism, and details with the disgust and outrage the way the British state recruited Nazis, including those responsible for pogroms against the Jews and the Holocaust, as agents in the Cold War struggle against Communism. The claim that Livingstone said Hitler was a Zionist is an invention of John Mann, the Blairites and the Israel lobby, and repeated ad nauseam, ad infinitum, by the Conservative press and media in order to smear and discredit him. And they are still doing it. Deborah Orr, one of the wretched columnists in the I newspaper, claimed that he had said the Hitler was a Zionist, which shows how much she, and her editor, care about factual reporting. Mike has also covered on his blog how the Israel lobby continue to point to an interview Red Ken gave on Sky as showing that he was anti-Semitic. Which also shows they haven’t bothered to watch it, as in the interview Ken thoroughly refutes the allegations and shoots down those making them.

In this interview, Livingstone answers the question why it has taken him so long to resign. He replies that his instinct has always been to fight on to the end, whether it was against Thatcher or Tony Blair. But he chose to resign now because the controversy and lies surrounding him were becoming too much of a distraction. He was suspended two years ago in 2016. After a year, there was another three day hearing, which couldn’t refute the charges against him, and so extended the suspension for another year. He wanted to take his accusers to court, but was told by his lawyer that it would take at least two years to get there. He considered that it was too much of a distraction from Labour’s real programme under Corbyn, which he makes very clear has a real chance of winning.

When asked about whether the allegations have damaged Labour’s chances, for example, in Barnet, which has a high Jewish population, Red Ken said that of course people would be shocked when they hear that he said that Hitler was a Zionist, that it’s not anti-Semitic to hate Jews in Israel, or that Jews are Nazis, but he was struck by the number of Jews, who came up to him on the street to tell him that they knew what he said was true. This was that in 1933 Hitler and the Zionists made a deal to send some Jews to Israel. They didn’t like each other, but as a result, 60,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine. If they had stayed in Germany, they would have been murdered in the Holocaust. So it’s the lesser of two evils, according to Livingstone.

When the interviewer asks him if these allegations haven’t put a dent in Labour’s electoral chances, such as in Barnet, Livingstone tells him that half a dozen Jews have asked him on the street why he claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. And he’s told them that he never said that. Unfortunately, Livingstone never completes that reply due to a technical fault.

The interviewer then moves on to ask him if he really believes that Labour has a chance under Corbyn. Livingstone says clearly that everyone said that Labour would be wiped out during the next election. But in fact, Corbyn delivered the greatest increase in the Labour vote since the 1945 election, and they came within two per cent of the Tories. They could have gotten more, if the party had been united and MPs hadn’t been trying to unseat their leader. He states that Corbyn has excellent plans for massive public investment, improved service, creating new jobs and investing in high tech industries. That connected with people, and will connect with people at the next election.

The interview ends with the question of what Livingstone will do now that he’s retired from politics and whether he will return. Livingstone states that he retired from politics after he lost the election to Boris Johnson in 2012. Now he’s an old age pensioner and a house-husband, walking the kids and feeding the dog.

It’s a very, very good interview with Livingstone making it very clear that he definitely did not say what the liars in the Blairites, the Israel lobby and the press have accused him of. As for Jews telling Livingstone that they know he didn’t say those things, I can well believe this. Mike has put up innumerable pieces on his blog showing the support of many Jews and Jewish groups for Corbyn and the victims of the anti-Semitism smears, pointing out that there is absolutely no truth in them. Especially as so many of those libelled as anti-Semites are self-respecting Jews. The alliance between the Nazis and the Zionists is solid historical fact, and included in respected historical studies of the Holocaust, such as that of the Zionist historian, David Cesarani. It was called the Ha’avara agreement, and there’s a page on it on the site of the International Holocaust Museum in Israel. All you have to do is google it to find out that what Livingstone said was the truth.

Mike is disappointed with Ken’s decision to resign, as this also affects the legal chances of those, like him, who have been smeared trying to defend Livingstone. He writes

The shame of it is that certain people will take Mr Livingstone’s decision as an admission of guilt – and that he will not have the opportunity to put the record straight.

That means he is letting down others who have been put in the same situation (like This Writer).

I’m not backing down – and if Labour’s disciplinary panel find against me, I’ll happily sue the party because my good name is not a negotiable commodity.

It goes without saying that I’m backing Mike, and everybody else who has been foully smeared by these contemptible knaves, 100 per cent. While I understand why Livingstone has raised, I am afraid this will just serve to encourage the Blairites and the Israel lobby in their campaign against Corbyn and the true Labour moderates. They will not be placated by just taking down a few, sacrificial supporters, like Livingstone. Now that they’ve seen their campaign is effective, they will keep on and on. The best defence is attack, and the only way to tackle them is to meet them head on, and refute every one of their dam’ lies. They are not as secure as they think they are. The Blairites live in holy terror of the constituency parties deselecting them. The Israel lobby itself is becoming painfully aware that smears of anti-Semitism aren’t having the affect they used to have. And Jonathan Arkush’s own position as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews is looking very rocky after his disgusting comments trying to cast the blame on the victims of the Gaza massacre, rather than the Israelis.

The Blairites and the Israel lobby are bullies. They are in a far weaker position than they wish to appear, and are responding by smears, lies and throwing their weight around. But you can stand up to bullies, and bring them down.

Philosophy Targeted at Hiram College

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/05/2018 - 11:55pm in

The philosophy major at Hiram College in Ohio will be eliminated if a new “academic redesign” recommended by the interim dean of the college goes forward.

The announced restructuring would, among other things:

  • Eliminate undergraduate major programs in economics, philosophy, mathematics, Spanish, and French (but keep minors in each area)
  • Incorporate philosophy and other disciplines into a “Crime and Justice” program
  • Eliminate a tenure-track line in philosophy.

According to the administration, they had input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees in developing these recommendations.

Hiram College is a 168-year-old small liberal arts school with roughly 80 faculty. The restructuring is in part prompted by the goal of making up for a $1.2 million budget shortfall, according to Inside Higher Ed.


The post Philosophy Targeted at Hiram College appeared first on Daily Nous.

Bullshit Jobs in Higher Ed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 09/05/2018 - 3:41am in

“The degree to which those involved in teaching and academic management spend more and more of their time involved in tasks which they secretly—or not so secretly—believe to be entirely pointless” is a hot topic on academic social media this week, owing to an article about it by anthropologist David Graeber (LSE) in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The article, “Are You in a BS Job? In Academe, You’re Hardly Alone,” (possibly paywalled) is a preview of Graeber’s forthcoming book, Bullshit Jobs.

Graeber takes bullshit jobs to be “forms of employment seen as utterly pointless by those who perform them,” and “make no meaningful contribution to the world.” The holders of such jobs consider them a “waste of time,” and think their disappearance “would either make no difference or make the world a better place.”

His primary concern is with the “bullshitization of real jobs”: the phenomenon by which purposeful and meaningful work gets taken over by more and more bullshit tasks. Bullshitization is a problem for academia:

In most universities nowadays—and this seems to be true almost everywhere—academic staff find themselves spending less and less time studying, teaching, and writing about things, and more and more time measuring, assessing, discussing, and quantifying the way in which they study, teach, and write about things (or the way in which they propose to do so in the future. European universities, reportedly, now spend at least 1.4 billion euros [about 1.7 billion dollars] a year on failed grant applications.). It’s gotten to the point where “admin” now takes up so much of most professors’ time that complaining about it is the default mode of socializing among academic colleagues; indeed, insisting on talking instead about one’s latest research project or course idea is considered somewhat rude. 

Graeber notes that the increase in these bullshit tasks has coincided with a substantial growth in university administration and support staff. From 1985 to 2005, he notes, students and faculty populations at colleges and universities increased by 50%, while administration increased by 85%, and the number of administrative staff increased by 240%. Graeber writes:

In theory, these are support-staff. They exist to make other peoples’ jobs easier. In the classic conception of the university, at least, they are there to save scholars the trouble of having to think about how to organize room assignments or authorize travel payments, allowing them to instead think great thoughts or grade papers. No doubt most support-staff still do perform such work. But if that were their primary role, then logically, when they double or triple in number, lecturers and researchers should have to do much less admin as a result. Instead they appear to be doing far more.

Graeber thinks the problem is a version of “managerial feudalism”:

Rich and powerful people have always surrounded themselves with flashy entourages; you can’t be really magnificent without one…. In the contemporary corporation, the accumulation of the equivalent of feudal retainers often becomes the main principle of organization. The power and prestige of managers tend to be measured by the number of people they have working under them…. Office workers are typically kept on even if they are doing literally nothing, lest somebody’s prestige suffer. This is the real reason for the explosion of administrative staff in higher education. If a university hires a new dean or deanlet… then, in order to ensure that he or she feels appropriately impressive and powerful, the new hire must be provided with a tiny army of flunkies. Three or four positions are created — and only then do negotiations begin over what they are actually going to do.

The new deans and deanlets and their minions have to justify their value to the university. One person he interviewed for his research on bullshit jobs, Chloe, accepted an appointment as a dean with the task of providing “strategic leadership” to the school. She says that since she had no control over the school’s budget or authority over its resources, “All I could do was come up with a new strategy which was, in effect, a re-spin of already agreed University strategies.” She was given a staff but had no real use for them, and concludes “I spent two years of my life making up work for myself and for other people.”

After the deanship she became chair of her department:

My very brief stint as Head of Department reminded me that at least, at the very minimum, 90% of the role is bullshit. Filling out the forms that the Faculty Dean sends so that s/he can write her strategy documents that get sent up the chain of command. Producing a confetti of paperwork as part of the auditing and monitoring of research activities and teaching activities. Producing plan after plan after 5-year-plan justifying why departments need to have the money and staff they already have. Doing bloody annual appraisals which go into a drawer never to be looked at again. And, in order to get these tasks done, as HoD, you ask your staff to help out. Bullshit proliferation.

He hypothesizes that higher education has been particularly susceptible to bullshitization because

academe is a kind of meeting place of the caring sector—defined in its broadest sense, as an occupation that involves looking after, nurturing, or furthering the health, well-being, or development of other human beings—and the creative sector.

The growing prevalence of a managerial outlook in these domains means that their practitioners are “obliged to spend increasing proportions of their time pretending to quantify the unquantifiable.”

Read Graeber’s article for a fuller explanation of his view.

While Graeber sees the increased bullshitization of the university as an outgrowth of managerial feudalism—basically as downstream effects of ostentatious displays of status and self-justification from those with power—there is, I think, a contribution to the problem that is less easily vilified, and which is in fact held up as laudable in other contexts: the drive for accountability.

It is not unreasonable for the public to want proof that its ivory towers are valuable and that their occupants are doing their jobs well. Sure, some demands for accountability are themselves bullshit—political posturing and the like. But not all. If private donors or state legislatures are interested in figuring out how to deploy their resources, it helps to have comprehensible accounts of how valuable their options are.

It’s also not unreasonable for the public to not just take our word for it. “Just trust us” is not an option.

Even if you think we don’t owe the public an explanation of our value, don’t we owe it to ourselves to know how well the enterprise to which we belong is doing? Gut feelings, status quo bias, path-dependence, blind faith, and self-serving platitudes won’t cut it.

The trick is to figure out how to convey how we’re doing without adopting standards and methods ill-suited to what we’re doing. Graeber is correct to lament the time wasted “pretending to quantify the unquantifiable.” But we also must acknowledge that some of the valuable things we take ourselves to be doing are, in fact, quantifiable. Figuring out which is which, how to express how well we’re doing with the unquantifiable stuff, how to assess the quantifiable stuff, determining which assessments require disciplinary expertise and which can be handled competently by support staff, and so on—and how to do all of this without bullshitizing our jobs—that’s a formidable challenge.

Bovey Lee, “Tightrope Walker” (cut paper)


The post Bullshit Jobs in Higher Ed appeared first on Daily Nous.

Theunissen from Johns Hopkins to Pittsburgh

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 04/05/2018 - 9:04pm in


Jobs, philosophy

Nandi Theunissen, currently assistant professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, will be taking up a position as associate professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

Professor Theunissen works in ethics, and has a book forthcoming with Oxford University Press entitled The Value of Humanity.

She starts at Pittsburgh in the Fall.

(via Bob Batterman)

The post Theunissen from Johns Hopkins to Pittsburgh appeared first on Daily Nous.