skip to main content


Title: Emotional Labor in Everyday Resilience: Class-based Experiences of Navigating Unemployment Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic in the U.S.
During the COVID-19 global health crisis, institutions, policymakers, and academics alike have called for practicing resilience to overcome its ongoing disruptions. This paper contributes a comparative study of the job search experiences of working-class and upper-middle-class job seekers, particularly in relation to their resilience practices during the pandemic. Drawing from in-depth interviews with 12 working-class and 11 upper-middle-class job seekers in the U.S., we unpack challenges resulting from both the pandemic and unemployment and job seekers’ novel practices of navigating these challenges in their everyday disrupted life. Job seekers’ ongoing negotiation with their resources, situations, and surroundings gives practical meanings to building everyday resilience, which we conceptualize as an ongoing process of becoming resilient. While job seekers across classes experienced similar challenges, working-class job seekers took on additional emotional labor in their everyday resilience due to their limited experience in the digital job search space, competition with higher-degree holding job seekers applying for the same jobs, limited social support networks, and at times, isolation. By foregrounding the uneven distribution of emotional labor in realizing the promise of resilience along class lines, this work cautions against the romanticization of resilience and calls for a more critical understanding of resilience in CSCW.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1717186
NSF-PAR ID:
10359490
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Computer supported cooperative work CSCW
ISSN:
1573-7551
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. In this article, we ask whether macro-level changes during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic relate to changes in the levels of discrimination against women and Black job-seekers at the point of hire. We develop three main hypotheses: that discrimination against women and Black job-seekers increases due to a reduction in labor demand; that discrimination against women decreases due to the reduced supply of women employees and applicants; and that discrimination against Black job-seekers decreases due to increased attention toward racial inequities associated with the Black Lives Matter protests during the summer of 2020. We test these hypotheses using a correspondence audit study collected over two periods, before and during the early COVID-19 pandemic, for one professional occupation: accountants. We find that White women experience a positive change in callbacks during the pandemic, being preferred over White men, and this change is concentrated in geographic areas that experienced relatively larger decreases in women's labor supply. Black women experience discrimination pre-pandemic but receive similar callbacks to White men during the pandemic. In contrast to both White and Black women, discrimination against Black men is persistent before and during the pandemic. Our findings are consistent with the prediction of gender-specific changes in labor supply being associated with gender-specific changes in hiring discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. More broadly, our study shows how hiring decision-making is related to macro-level labor market processes. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Background The COVID-19 pandemic has caused several disruptions in personal and collective lives worldwide. The uncertainties surrounding the pandemic have also led to multifaceted mental health concerns, which can be exacerbated with precautionary measures such as social distancing and self-quarantining, as well as societal impacts such as economic downturn and job loss. Despite noting this as a “mental health tsunami”, the psychological effects of the COVID-19 crisis remain unexplored at scale. Consequently, public health stakeholders are currently limited in identifying ways to provide timely and tailored support during these circumstances. Objective Our study aims to provide insights regarding people’s psychosocial concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic by leveraging social media data. We aim to study the temporal and linguistic changes in symptomatic mental health and support expressions in the pandemic context. Methods We obtained about 60 million Twitter streaming posts originating from the United States from March 24 to May 24, 2020, and compared these with about 40 million posts from a comparable period in 2019 to attribute the effect of COVID-19 on people’s social media self-disclosure. Using these data sets, we studied people’s self-disclosure on social media in terms of symptomatic mental health concerns and expressions of support. We employed transfer learning classifiers that identified the social media language indicative of mental health outcomes (anxiety, depression, stress, and suicidal ideation) and support (emotional and informational support). We then examined the changes in psychosocial expressions over time and language, comparing the 2020 and 2019 data sets. Results We found that all of the examined psychosocial expressions have significantly increased during the COVID-19 crisis—mental health symptomatic expressions have increased by about 14%, and support expressions have increased by about 5%, both thematically related to COVID-19. We also observed a steady decline and eventual plateauing in these expressions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have been due to habituation or due to supportive policy measures enacted during this period. Our language analyses highlighted that people express concerns that are specific to and contextually related to the COVID-19 crisis. Conclusions We studied the psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 crisis by using social media data from 2020, finding that people’s mental health symptomatic and support expressions significantly increased during the COVID-19 period as compared to similar data from 2019. However, this effect gradually lessened over time, suggesting that people adapted to the circumstances and their “new normal.” Our linguistic analyses revealed that people expressed mental health concerns regarding personal and professional challenges, health care and precautionary measures, and pandemic-related awareness. This study shows the potential to provide insights to mental health care and stakeholders and policy makers in planning and implementing measures to mitigate mental health risks amid the health crisis. 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    This article contributes results of a longitudinal field study of SkillsIdentifier, an employment tool originally designed and assessed in the United States (U.S.), to support “underrepresented” job seekers in identifying and articulating their employment skills. To understand whether the tool could support the needs of job seekers outside the U.S., we assessed it among 16 job seekers with limited education and language resources in Switzerland. While many of our results mirrored those of the U.S., we found that the tool was especially beneficial for non-French speaking immigrants who needed support describing their skills outside of their native language. We also found that listing skills like “active listening” without important context was insufficient and risked hiding key skills and meaning behind those skills to employers. Taking these factors into account, we illustrate the design implications of our findings and directions for practitioners who wish to design employment tools in support of job seekers, especially those who have traditionally been excluded from the labor market. We then provide insight into the potential for unintended consequences as a result of focusing solely on skills in a post-COVID labor market and contribute ways to mitigate them. 
    more » « less
  4. Nicewonger, Todd E. ; McNair, Lisa D. ; Fritz, Stacey (Ed.)
    https://pressbooks.lib.vt.edu/alaskanative/ At the start of the pandemic, the editors of this annotated bibliography initiated a remote (i.e., largely virtual) ethnographic research project that investigated how COVID-19 was impacting off-site modular construction practices in Alaska Native communities. Many of these communities are located off the road system and thus face not only dramatically higher costs but multiple logistical challenges in securing licensed tradesmen and construction crews and in shipping building supplies and equipment to their communities. These barriers, as well as the region’s long winters and short building seasons, complicate the construction of homes and related infrastructure projects. Historically, these communities have also grappled with inadequate housing, including severe overcrowding and poor-quality building stock that is rarely designed for northern Alaska’s climate (Marino 2015). Moreover, state and federal bureaucracies and their associated funding opportunities often further complicate home building by failing to accommodate the digital divide in rural Alaska and the cultural values and practices of Native communities.[1] It is not surprising, then, that as we were conducting fieldwork for this project, we began hearing stories about these issues and about how the restrictions caused by the pandemic were further exacerbating them. Amidst these stories, we learned about how modular home construction was being imagined as a possible means for addressing both the complications caused by the pandemic and the need for housing in the region (McKinstry 2021). As a result, we began to investigate how modular construction practices were figuring into emergent responses to housing needs in Alaska communities. We soon realized that we needed to broaden our focus to capture a variety of prefabricated building methods that are often colloquially or idiomatically referred to as “modular.” This included a range of prefabricated building systems (e.g., manufactured, volumetric modular, system-built, and Quonset huts and other reused military buildings[2]). Our further questions about prefabricated housing in the region became the basis for this annotated bibliography. Thus, while this bibliography is one of multiple methods used to investigate these issues, it played a significant role in guiding our research and helped us bring together the diverse perspectives we were hearing from our interviews with building experts in the region and the wider debates that were circulating in the media and, to a lesser degree, in academia. The actual research for each of three sections was carried out by graduate students Lauren Criss-Carboy and Laura Supple.[3] They worked with us to identify source materials and their hard work led to the team identifying three themes that cover intersecting topics related to housing security in Alaska during the pandemic. The source materials collected in these sections can be used in a variety of ways depending on what readers are interested in exploring, including insights into debates on housing security in the region as the pandemic was unfolding (2021-2022). The bibliography can also be used as a tool for thinking about the relational aspects of these themes or the diversity of ways in which information on housing was circulating during the pandemic (and the implications that may have had on community well-being and preparedness). That said, this bibliography is not a comprehensive analysis. Instead, by bringing these three sections together with one another to provide a snapshot of what was happening at that time, it provides a critical jumping off point for scholars working on these issues. The first section focuses on how modular housing figured into pandemic responses to housing needs. In exploring this issue, author Laura Supple attends to both state and national perspectives as part of a broader effort to situate Alaska issues with modular housing in relation to wider national trends. This led to the identification of multiple kinds of literature, ranging from published articles to publicly circulated memos, blog posts, and presentations. These materials are important source materials that will likely fade in the vastness of the Internet and thus may help provide researchers with specific insights into how off-site modular construction was used – and perhaps hyped – to address pandemic concerns over housing, which in turn may raise wider questions about how networks, institutions, and historical experiences with modular construction are organized and positioned to respond to major societal disruptions like the pandemic. As Supple pointed out, most of the material identified in this review speaks to national issues and only a scattering of examples was identified that reflect on the Alaskan context. The second section gathers a diverse set of communications exploring housing security and homelessness in the region. The lack of adequate, healthy housing in remote Alaska communities, often referred to as Alaska’s housing crisis, is well-documented and preceded the pandemic (Guy 2020). As the pandemic unfolded, journalists and other writers reported on the immense stress that was placed on already taxed housing resources in these communities (Smith 2020; Lerner 2021). The resulting picture led the editors to describe in their work how housing security in the region exists along a spectrum that includes poor quality housing as well as various forms of houselessness including, particularly relevant for the context, “hidden homelessness” (Hope 2020; Rogers 2020). The term houseless is a revised notion of homelessness because it captures a richer array of both permanent and temporary forms of housing precarity that people may experience in a region (Christensen et al. 2107). By identifying sources that reflect on the multiple forms of housing insecurity that people were facing, this section highlights the forms of disparity that complicated pandemic responses. Moreover, this section underscores ingenuity (Graham 2019; Smith 2020; Jason and Fashant 2021) that people on the ground used to address the needs of their communities. The third section provides a snapshot from the first year of the pandemic into how CARES Act funds were allocated to Native Alaska communities and used to address housing security. This subject was extremely complicated in Alaska due to the existence of for-profit Alaska Native Corporations and disputes over eligibility for the funds impacted disbursements nationwide. The resources in this section cover that dispute, impacts of the pandemic on housing security, and efforts to use the funds for housing as well as barriers Alaska communities faced trying to secure and use the funds. In summary, this annotated bibliography provides an overview of what was happening, in real time, during the pandemic around a specific topic: housing security in largely remote Alaska Native communities. The media used by housing specialists to communicate the issues discussed here are diverse, ranging from news reports to podcasts and from blogs to journal articles. This diversity speaks to the multiple ways in which information was circulating on housing at a time when the nightly news and radio broadcasts focused heavily on national and state health updates and policy developments. Finding these materials took time, and we share them here because they illustrate why attention to housing security issues is critical for addressing crises like the pandemic. For instance, one theme that emerged out of a recent National Science Foundation workshop on COVID research in the North NSF Conference[4] was that Indigenous communities are not only recovering from the pandemic but also evaluating lessons learned to better prepare for the next one, and resilience will depend significantly on more—and more adaptable—infrastructure and greater housing security. 
    more » « less
  5. Rapid changes in technology are expected to limit the availability of decent work for millions of people worldwide. This particularly disadvantages socially and economically marginalized job seekers who are already being pushed into lower-wage precarious work with increasing levels of job insecurity. While the number of employment support tools that match job seekers to employers has been growing, marginalized job seekers still significantly rely on physical employment centers that have a track record of supporting the specific needs associated with marginalization and economic constraints. We drew from prior HCI and CSCW literature uncovering the employment and technology-related challenges that marginalized job seekers face and from the Psychology of Working Theory to frame our research questions and results. To complement this prior work, we investigated how employment center staff work with marginalized job seekers and moderate factors to securing decent work. We found in an interview of 21 employment center staff--career advisors and business services coordinators--that they performed significant work to prepare and encourage marginalized job seekers in applying to positions, while also training employers to be more inclusive and open-minded. Career advisors worked directly with job seekers to connect them with external resources, provide encouragement, strategize long-term goals, and mitigate feelings of stigma. Business services coordinators worked directly with employers to prepare job positions and employee support programs. Drawing from the expertise of employment centers, we contribute a framework for designing employment support tools that better serve the needs of marginalized job seekers, and outline tangible design implications that complement the support these organizations provide. 
    more » « less