Ireland, May 1970. The country’s banks were closing one after the other. The reason? The employees claimed for a salary increase. Their strike would be long lasting, it went on for 6 months! How will people withdraw money, receive their pay-checks or buy things?
Their way out to this long lasting strike was going to the pub! Indeed, these typical bars of the country have a lot of cash.
In addition, the owners know everyone, and enjoy great trust from their customers.
Therefore, Irish people turned to them. They signed cheques and collected cash in exchange. Pub owners will only need to wait for the banks to reopen. Thank to this way out, they could pay for their purchases, and everything went well.
For the anthropologist David Graeber, this episode would tend to show that the job of bank’s employees has no “social utility”. When they would not work, everything continued to function normally. This proved to be true as in the year of the strike, the Irish economy grew as well as usual.
Obviously, Irish could not do some operations, like asking for loans, making investments in the stock market or establishing business companies.
Finally, everyone was very happy when they could go to the bank again, especially the pub owners who could cash out all the checks they received.
Actually, bank jobs have changed a lot during the last twenty years. When I opened my first bank account, I had to go there and meet someone to do all the papers. The last one I opened, I went to the bank just to sign one paper, to verify the authenticity of my signature.
Beyond social utility, today we are witnessing the disappearance of professions due to the increasingly widespread use of artificial intelligence which causes, and will massively cause, a radical change in the job market.
What jobs do you think will change or disappear in the near future?