7 Oct 2013

What kind of job do you do?

Cornelia and I were thinking of the different types of workers and jobs, and we came up with this scheme:

As definitions, I think these may work...

Types of workers:
  • Bureaucrats just do the job they are told to do*
  • Professionals practice craft, to do their job as well as possible
  • Intellectuals look beyond their job, to see a larger significance, which can result in poor performance as well as breakthroughs
Types of jobs:
  • Academic jobs may not be relevant to everyday life
  • Public jobs are relevant to the society
  • Private jobs are relevant inside an organization
Does it look complete? Can you find yourself in there somewhere?  Can you see how you may move around the grid and -- if you do -- how residence in one section may affect your feelings and conduct in another section? That's what I was getting at with my proposal for bureaucratic term limits.

* OMG, you MUST read this essay "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs"! Excerpt:
But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”

It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen.


  1. Looks fairly complete - but what about people who work on their own, and not inside an organization. I think I fit in the right hand bottom corner (can't decide between professional and intellectual - probably more the former), and my skills fit in a private company, but the way I work right now doesn't. I think.

  2. @mathide -- good question. A one person organization can be the same. Most are private, but some are public. I am those, in a 25/75 ratio (gotta pay the bills :)

  3. I, too, am self-employed. I do an after-school math enrichment program at an elementary school. I do keep track of paperwork (business insurance, taxes, permission forms) so I'm partly a bureaucrat. There is a craft to presentation and working with children. I have a big picture, which is to get kids to love math and see it as more than long division. So do I fit in all three on the bottom row? My work requires me to do a lot of research and learning and imagining to have interesting things to do with the kids. I'm not sure if that is on the chart, or maybe in many jobs.
    By the way, elementary school kids love game theory (especially when cookies are involved).

    Rich Mills

  4. Seems like you might add columns for craft, repetitive, and menial jobs.

  5. @Jp -- I'd put craft under professional and menial/repetitive under bureaucratic


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