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The Chemistry Game Experience and Self-Blame

The Chemistry Game Experience and Self-Blame

(p.51) Chapter Three The Chemistry Game Experience and Self-Blame
Flawed System/Flawed Self
Ofer Sharone
University of Chicago Press

After several months of unsuccessful job searching most American white-collar job seekers come to feel that there is something wrong with them. This chapter links this self-blame to the structure of the chemistry game—the discourses and practices underlying American white-collar job searching. The chemistry game’s premises that job seekers can control their career fates by mastering self-presentation techniques while networking and interviewing are initially comforting, but ultimately backfire by leaving job seekers with only themselves to blame for their unemployment. Moreover, job seekers’ attempts to create rapport while networking or interviewing require a specific form of emotional labor that renders them vulnerable to highly personalized forms of self-blame and perceptions of deep internal flaws. This form of self-blame often results in debilitating discouragement. In this context job search support organizations and discourses seeking to provide hope to job seekers by amplifying singular success stories only reinforce the premise of individual control and self-blame. Similarly, the self-help insistence on the imperative of maintaining a positive attitude undermines the open sharing of hardships among unemployed job seekers.

Keywords:   self-blame, emotional labor, discouragement, networking, resumes, interviewing, in-depth interviews

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