America is country that values hard work, almost above all else. When you meet a stranger, one of the first questions is ‘so what do you do’? Our occupation is often how we are defined and our value established in this culture. It then makes it all the more difficult and painful to find yourself out of work in America. Whether it’s from a mass layoff or a singular event, you’re left trying to explain to yourself and others what happened. In her book, ‘The Tolls of Uncertainty’, Sarah Damaske explains how privilege and the guilt gap shape unemployment in America. She will give definition to much of what can prove to be one of the most painful experiences of your life as search for work and meaning in the process. This period of ‘unexpected transitions’ is traversed in different ways depending upon many factors, including social status and sex. She also argues that unemployment is an institution–like workplaces and families–and produces its own inequalities. Over 60 percent of us will experience a period of unemployment in our lifetimes and we explore the process today.
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