How Associations Can Lead Workers Out of a Rut
Disengaged employees can create opportunities for associations to help
Economic trends come and go, but dead-end office jobs are forever.
A few generations back we were satirizing the “organization man” who drably punched in and out of a desk gig. In his 1991 novel, Generation X, Douglas Coupland described a host of Xers stuck in lousy “McJobs” that bore little connection to their college majors. Today, London School of Economics anthropologist David Graeber argues that we are now in an era of “b.s. jobs.” (I’m using the polite form of the phrase; the title of his new book on the subject spells it out.)
To be clear, Graeber’s definition of such jobs is very broad-brush: It encompasses “professional, managerial, clerical, sales and service workers,” which would encompass (just as a for-instance) the whole of the association industry. His book is a larger jeremiad about making long-term changes to the nature and value of work. But in the near-term, he’s put a spotlight on the kind of disengagement that employees feel when they’re relegated to grunt-work, make-work and so on.
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