On the Job
An Encyclopedia of Unique Occupations around the World
by Margo DeMello
January 2021, 295pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6350-9
$97, £72, 84€, A132
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6351-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

In India, dabbawalas have a job that dates back to 1890: picking up home-cooked meals prepared by wives and mothers to deliver to their husbands and sons working in the cities.

This one-volume encyclopedia examines jobs and occupations from around the world that are unique and out of the ordinary, from bike fishermen in the Netherlands and professional wedding guests in South Korea to elephant dressers in India.

It’s not surprising that the first question we are asked by strangers often has to do with what we do for a living. It’s another way of asking, “Who are you, and what are you about?” But what happens when the answer to that question is “I am a gondolier” or “I am an Instagram influencer?” This book tries to answer that question, focusing on approximately 100 unusual occupations around the world.

Arranged alphabetically, entries define the jobs and detail their historical, social, and cultural significance. Entries also examine where the job is located, how it came to be, how people get into the position, and what the economic and future outlook is for that job. While the entries focus on contemporary jobs, the encyclopedia also includes sidebars that highlight unique jobs from history to give the reader a sense of how unusual (and often terrible!) some jobs once were. Students will find this book useful in looking at cultures around the world.


  • Helps readers to better understand cultural values of other countries and make cross-cultural comparisons
  • Helps readers to identify similar and related jobs across cultures with listings of jobs by category
  • Illuminates the text through sidebars highlighting interesting facts and anecdotal observations
  • Illustrates hard-to-imagine jobs through photos
  • Is written in an engaging, accessible tone for high school students, but is also useful for undergraduates and general readers
Margo DeMello, PhD, is assistant professor at Carroll College in the anthrozoology program. She has published over a dozen books, most within the fields of human-animal studies and body studies, and dozens of articles and book chapters. Her ABC-CLIO works include Inked: Tattoos and Body Art around the World; Faces around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Human Face; Feet and Footwear: A Cultural Encyclopedia; and Encyclopedia of Body Adornment. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Davis.
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