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Flawed System/Flawed SelfJob Searching and Unemployment Experiences$
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Ofer Sharone

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226073361

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226073675.001.0001

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A Cross-Class Comparison

A Cross-Class Comparison

The Blue-Collar Diligence Game

(p.142) Chapter Six A Cross-Class Comparison
Flawed System/Flawed Self

Ofer Sharone

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the distinct job search strategies and unemployment experiences of American blue-collar workers. Labor market institutions in this context shift the focus away from both subjective chemistry and objective specs and instead make salient a “diligence” filter where getting hired is widely understood to depend on whether the job seeker is perceived to be a reliable hard worker. In a surprising finding, American blue-collar job-search experiences are more parallel to those white-collar Israelis than to those of their American white-collar compatriots. Drawing on in-depth interviews with blue-collar job seekers the data suggest that similarities in unemployment experiences are rooted in structural similarities between the specs and diligence job search games, including the nature of the required emotional labor and the perceived importance of job search strategies in determining the outcome. Taken together, the cross-class and cross-national comparisons suggest that to understand unemployment experiences the analysis must move beyond culture and class to the specific job-search games unemployed workers must engage in when looking for work, and the concrete labor market institutions that structure such games.

Keywords:   blue-collar, cross-class comparison, labor market institutions, culture, one-stop centers, participant-observations

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