Friday, July 03, 2015

bloatware labor

I work in a University where, even in the face of budget crises and such, has an ever-increasing administrative level. This makes it much like every other university in this (and probably other) countries. Under our last administration, class sizes and teaching loads went up because of lack of funds. But at the same time, the College of Arts & Sciences was split into five separate colleges, each with its own level of administration. It never ceases to amaze me that the powers that be favor everyone except those who do the actual work of the institution.

Note I said "amaze," not "shock." When I teach my students about the traditional model of class, my undergrads are all quite clear that the middle managers don't bring any capital to production nor actually produce anything. I tell my students that some organizational theorists say that the heightened pay of middle managers is only really a symbol of power for workers who, in the end, don't really add anything of value to the chain of production. My students are not surprised by this...indeed, they already know it instinctually.

Unnecessary software on computers or phones is called bloatware. But what do you call uneccesary workers? I don't have a good term. I do know they, with their artificial power and lack of productivity are usually annoying. But there's another angle on this I did not consider until I read the article (salty language warning) On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs. Yes, the article comes with an inherent bias, but to my mind, it hits pretty much spot-on. Besides, who couldn't get behind the fifteen hour work week? Imagine how much saner it would make the world.

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