Book Review: Ofer Sharone: Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences

indexOfer Sharone: Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 240 pp. ISBN 978-0-226-07336-1, $85 (Cloth); ISBN 978-0-226-07353-8, $27.50 (Paperback).

Erin Hatton of State University of New York at Buffalo reviewed “Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences” by Ofer Sharone in the latest issue of ILR Review.

In Flawed System/Flawed Self, Ofer Sharone examines the experience of ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointunemployment with great insight and deep empathy. The experience of unemployment, he argues, is neither universal nor simply determined by culture or the economy. Rather, it is structured by the particular social institutions that shape the search for work. These institutions give rise to what Sharone calls “job-search games,” but such “games” are not fun; indeed, they often cause job seekers a great deal of pain.

To investigate these job-search games and the institutions that shape them, Sharone compares the experience of unemployment across three groups: white-collar U.S. workers, white-collar Israeli workers, and blue-collar U.S. workers. Through extensive interviews and participant observation with each of these groups, Sharone finds that the experience of unemployment differs dramatically depending on the institutional context.

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