Good jobs, scam jobs: Detecting, normalizing, and internalizing online job scams during the COVID-19 pandemic

Good jobs that allow remote work have enabled white-collar professionals to stay home during COVID-19, but for precarious workers, online advertisements for work-from-home employment are often scams. In this article, based on in-depth interviews conducted between April and July 2020 with nearly 200 precarious workers, we find that precarious workers regularly encountered fraudulent job advertisements via digital media. Drawing on Swidler’s concepts of the cultural tool kit and cultural logic, we find that in this time of uncertainty, workers defaulted to the focus on personal responsibility that is inherent in insecurity culture. Following the cultural logic of personal responsibility, job seekers did not place blame on job search websites for allowing the scams to be posted, but normalized the situation, deploying a scam detection repertoire in response. In addition, the discovery that advertised “good jobs” are often scams affecting workers’ desire to continue job hunting and perceptions of potential future success.