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Online privacy in job recruitment processes? Boundary work among cybervetting recruiters

Journal article
Authors Christel Backman
Anna Hedenus
Published in New technology, work and employment
Volume 34
Issue 2
Pages 157-173
ISSN 0268-1072
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 157-173
Language en
Keywords cybervetting, recruitment, boundary work, privacy, public/private, contextual integrity
Subject categories Sociology


This article addresses various ways that cybervetting recruiters (re)construct boundaries around the public–private division. Based on interviews with 37 recruiters in Sweden, we show how the practice of cybervetting is legitimised by the recruiters’ descriptions and accounts in relation to various notions of privacy and norms of information flow. We present this as a boundary work aided by especially two ways of framing information: the repertoire about accessible information and the repertoire of relevant information. These repertoires help define what information can be conceived of as public or private, and as legitimate versus unethical to search for and to use. Privacy is framed by employers as a responsibility, rather than a right, for social network site users. The findings also underline similarities and differences in jobseekers’ and employers’ norms of information flow, not least considering the right to online privacy.

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