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robertogreco : vocations   7

Should I Go to Trade School or College?
"High schoolers are weighing the benefits of blue-collar trades at a time when well-paying jobs—and no debt—are hard to pass up."

[See also:
"Generation Z Is Skipping College for Trade School
With the job market in flux, younger Americans are trying to avoid an education that comes with a massive amount of debt." ]
genz  education  srg  edg  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  vocations  vocationalschools  generations  studentdebt  jobs  work  economics  2018  us  alternative  generationz 
november 2018 by robertogreco
On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs | Strike! Magazine
"So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be).

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.”"

"There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely. Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It’s even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or auto industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It’s as if they are being told “but you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health care?”

If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc) – and particularly its financial avatars – but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days."

[Also here with an altered title: ]
economics  employment  jobs  politics  davidgraeber  capitalism  work  meaning  purpose  waste  power  resentment  vocations  bullshitjobs  2013  administrativebloat 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — Letter To A Young Programmer Considering A Startup
"But startups are the new big company. They are, as I’ll describe below, the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions."

I won’t equivocate: I am deeply skeptical of this system. I’m skeptical of this system’s slavering, self-congratulatory fetishization of “disruption” while so obviously becoming the sort of stolid institution it seeks to displace. I’m skeptical of the startup community’s often short-term outlook. I’m particularly skeptical of its callous disregard for both the lives of the people who participate in it and the lives of those who live in the world that startups seek to reshape. Let’s not even begin to discuss how commonplace collusion, price fixing, and other market-corrupting activities are in the world of VC. The point being: it’s a bad game and a rigged one.

And yet. There are startups I wouldn’t want to see disappear. There are people working at and funding those startups who are good, kind, balanced in their personal and professional lives, thoughtful of the impact of their work. Just as we might cast aspersions and accusations of corruption on other systems like politics, mass media entertainment, and professional sports, we must admire those who operate ethically and efficiently within them. We should further celebrate those who are pioneering new and alternative systems, for they work in the shadow of a community that has a constant hand on the crank of the hype machine.

Now, you could say that I’m laying too much responsibility at the feet of the startup world. Though this system daily broadcasts itself as the savior of everything from capitalism to culture, surely we can accept that business is business and ideals are best left at the door. As a VC at a top-tier Sand Hill Road firm told me during a pitch several years ago when describing a conceptual feature in Simple that would let users easily and regularly donate a portion of their savings to charity, “let’s not waste time on that stuff; we’re here to make money”.

You could take this tack, but I hope that your idealism hasn’t been worn down at such a relatively young age. I hope you want your work to be imbued with meaning, purpose, and value no matter what form that work takes. More than that, I hope you want your life to be defined by more than work.

Young programmer, I urge you to consider both sides of the startup coin. There are so many ways to make a dent in the world."
vc  alexpayne  change  idealism  ideals  2013  systems  responsibility  startups  labor  disruption  meaning  meaningfulness  vocations  collusion  pricefixing  corruption  finance  power  control  hierarchy  purpose  bureaucracy  incubators  accelerators 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Raw Meat: Therefore, daily and hourly, the politician... [Max Weber on self-skepticism]
"Therefore, daily and hourly, the politician inwardly has to overcome a quite trivial and all-too-human enemy: a quite vulgar vanity, the deadly enemy of all matter-of-fact devotion to a cause, and of all distance, in this case, of distance towards one’s self.

…The sin against the lofty spirit of his vocation, however, begins where this striving for power ceases to be objective and becomes purely personal self-intoxication, instead of exclusively entering the service of ‘the cause.’ For ultimately there are only two kinds of deadly sins in the field of politics: lack of objectivity and—often but not always identical with it—irresponsibility. Vanity, the need personally to stand in the foreground as clearly as possible, strongly tempts the politician to commit one or both of these sins.

…The final result of political action often, no, even regularly, stands in completely inadequate and often even paradoxical relation to its original meaning…"

[Continues on just a bit more.]
causes  identity  self  vanity  politicalaction  irresponsibility  objectivity  self-intoxication  power  aaronswartz  maxweber  2012  vocations  politics 
september 2012 by robertogreco
P! - Process 01: Joy - Process 01: Joy
“We have also been experiencing some uneasy times lately, but aware of the irrelevance of all these things, we attempt to lose ourselves in our work and in the joy of life.” —H.N. Werkman

“Museums are no place for artists who are questioning social roles.”
—Chauncey Hare

"The inaugural exhibition at P!, Process 01: Joy, opens in September 2012. Featuring works by Chauncey Hare, Christine Hill, and Karel Martens, the exhibition focuses on topics that periodically appear, disappear, and reappear in and out of contemporary discourse: labor, alienation, and the love of work. Rather than attempting to tackle these themes head on, the exhibition presents three wildly disparate positions that together suggest a loose and unstable thesis. The materials on view span a range of documentary, anthropological, and performative approaches to questions of labor and, at the same time, enact self-reflexive, parallel spaces of production and “off-time.”"

[Tumblr: ]
via:litherland  vocations  artlabor  design  art  labor  karelmartens  alienation  work  christinehill  chaunceyhare  p!  leisurearts  artleisure 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Afterall • Online • Two Slight Returns: Chauncey Hare and Marianne Wex
"For Chauncey Hare and Marianne Wex, the question of a career, of art as a profession, was unresolved in ways which have affected the legacy of their work, and even the legitimacy of categorising them as ‘artists’. While they were contemporaries, making their most important work in the 1970s, they had little else obviously in common: Hare was a documentary photographer based in California; Wex was an artist and art teacher living in Hamburg. They never met, or exhibited together, nor were they even aware of one another’s work. But in their choices, the vicissitudes of their reputations, and the political valencies of their work, there are parallels which suggest how vocations can unhinge careers, and how giving oneself over entirely to the work might mean abandoning it altogether."
judithwyatt  photography  renunciation  anti-career  janetmalcolm  artlabor  responsibility  jackvaneuw  bancroftlibrary  judywyatt  labor  leisurearts  self-sabotage  artworld  workplace  work  iainsinclair  aidanandrewdun  vocations  mikesperlinger  2011  1970s  art  mariannewex  chaunceyhare  artleisure 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Sad Secular Monks | First Things
"Today, many of the most high-status jobs for the well-educated make a virtue of intensity & commitment. Investment banking boasts 80-hour work weeks; Teach for America’s emotional crucible results in a high burnout rate…Have a Type A personality? These jobs are ready to push you to (or past) your limit…isn’t that what excellence is all about?

There’s a word for people who turn over their entire waking life to one cause, and willingly sacrifice the possibility of a family for the opportunity to serve: monks…Just like the driven 20-somethings of Rosin’s article, monks & nuns have made a commitment so total that it precludes marriage. But in the case of vowed religious, the form of their service is meant to be elevating, not just useful. I seldom hear people claim that spreadsheets are good for the soul. Even for people doing high intensity work for the public good…the form of their work may still be deadening.

Most careers aren’t vocations…we need space outside them to grow & love. …"
via:ayjay  vocations  outoforder  hannarosin  tfa  type-a  work  life  careers  teachforamerica  work-lifebalance 
august 2012 by robertogreco

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