Today 4.7 million Americans have been unemployed for more than six months. In France more than ten percent of the working population is without work. In Israel it’s above seven percent. And in Greece and Spain, that number approaches thirty percent. Across the developed world, the experience of unemployment has become frighteningly common—and so are the seemingly endless tactics that job seekers employ in their quest for new work.
Flawed System/Flawed Self delves beneath these staggering numbers to explore the world of job searching and unemployment across class and nation. Through in-depth interviews and observations at job-search support organizations, Ofer Sharone reveals how different labor-market institutions give rise to job-search games like Israel’s résumé-based “spec games”—which are focused on presenting one’s skills to fit the job—and the “chemistry games” more common in the United States in which job seekers concentrate on presenting the person behind the résumé. By closely examining the specific day-to-day activities and strategies of searching for a job, Sharone develops a theory of the mechanisms that connect objective social structures and subjective experiences in this challenging environment and shows how these different structures can lead to very different experiences of unemployment.
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