No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City
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No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  236 ratings  ·  29 reviews
"Powerful and poignant.... Newman's message is clear and timely." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

In No Shame in My Game, Harvard anthropologist Katherine Newman gives voice to a population for whom work, family, and self-esteem are top priorities despite all the factors that make earning a living next to impossible--minimum wage, lack of child care and health care, and a despe...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 25th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Liz
I seem to have a habit of choosing public policy books because I am interested in the personal stories of individuals affected by the socioeconomic problems at hand, but then find myself tuning out when the author gets into the nitty-gritty of the actual policy issues. Maybe for leisure reading I should stick to fiction for awhile...

Anyway, the book is great, and I wish it was updated for the 21st century, as it is based on research from the mid to late 90s when the U.S. economy was growing and...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Katherine S. Newman, Ford Foundation Professor
of Urban Studies at Harvard, focuses much of
her research on America's urban poor. In No
Shame in My Game, Newman describes the results
of her two year research project in Harlem,
a project in which Newman and others studied
the lives of many of Harlem's working poor.
Many findings were surprising and contrary to
popular depictions of the poor. Most poor
people, Newman found, want to work and
spend numerous hours in fruitless searches
for work. Th...more
Megan
This book was informative in regard to statistics on the working poor and the realities that many of these individuals face. I was particularly interested in the discussion of stigma in regard to fast-food jobs and the chapter on family values, though there were a number of other topics explored.

One of the advantages of the book was the use of individual stories to help illustrate her claims. I was hooked by the tales of real people (names changed to protect identity) and their lives, woven in n...more
Jason
If you know nothing of urban poverty except that it doesn't look appealing while driving past at 65 miles per hour on the interstate, or it looks dangerous in movies - then this book and When Work Disappears by William Julius Wilson are the two books you should pick up.

Through years of interviews and following entry level workers at "Burger Barns" around the boroughs of New York, plus hands on experience working those jobs, the author and her assistants have put together an even-handed, if a bit...more
Grace
Katherine Newman's No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City is one of those books I've been meaning to read for quite some time. I first encountered excerpts from it about a year ago, while taking a class on Family Policy that focused heavily on urban poverty, but we didn't read the whole book for class, so it found its way to my personal reading list. A year later, I actually picked it up from the library and started reading it.

It's quite good. Newman is an anthropologist at Colu...more
Nate Trauntvein
K.S. Newman, a sociologist at Princeton University, wrote No Shame in My Game (1999), an ethnography portraying the paradigm of the working poor in inner city New York (specifically Harlem). Newman communicated years of research (in-depth interviews, onsite observation, and participant observation) in a very logical, easy to understand manner. This information was organized thematically into chapters (i.e. Getting a Job in the Inner City, Family Values etc…) with several participants being follo...more
Kressel Housman
The fast food industry meets Columbia University in this absorbing sociological study of the working poor. The author followed the daily lives of a number of “Burger Barn” employees, and you can’t help but respect these people. They work at low-paying, disrespected “McJobs” even though other paths, like welfare and crime, might actually pay more, at least in the short run. But for those who can stick it out, rude customers and all, a job at “Burger Barn” can lead to promotion into store manageme...more
Natalie
Many people talk about welfare and the poor, but few really understand the nature of poverty in America. Most people in poverty work, part time or full time, in the regulated economy or under the table, for cash or for in-kind services, many work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. What does it take to keep your head above water in Harlem (where the study was conducted), how possible is it that you can pull yourself up by the proverbial boot straps and escape the clutches of minimum wage? What opport...more
Tori
Jul 25, 2011 Tori added it
2004-I was actually assigned to read this book for my Introduction to Sociology class. While I might not have picked it up on my own, I found that it wasn't that bad. Newman tells us stories of the working poor in Harlem, many who work at the local ""Burger Barn"". Their struggles do really grip you and give you a different picture of these people. While a couple of chapters were a little bogged down in numbers, and Newman assumes her readers are familiar with some aspects of welfare and such, o...more
Betty
Written by an anthropologist this work provides insight into the lives of the working poor, particularly inner city individuals who work in the fast food industry. 12+ years after welfare reform we are keeping tabs on the number of jobs created. Yet the conversation also needs to address the kinds of jobs--do they have benefits? can working families afford childcare with the wages? is there opportunity to grow and advance? These are important considerations because work without real opportunity...more
Angel
Read this for my Homelessness & Poverty in America class, it's technical book but shows why welfare reform is not such an easy fix as kicking people off assistance. It's a very complex subject. Life happens to everyone no matter how hard you plan but what happens when there's no plan in place? How do you recover after you child has been taken from you and you're jumping through all the hoops to get her back?
Em
depressing book, but a good introduction to the problems facing the working poor as they attempt to move up the career ladder (definitely covers many of the same issues we see with the frontline healthcare workforce today, though newman's book focuses more on minimum wage workers in the fast food industry).
Elizabeth7218
I had to read this book for one of my classes and I have to say it was an excellent book. The thing that really stuck with me after I read this book was how the women had to put up with some screwed up relationships because they couldn't afford housing on their own. It was really eye opening.
Rosemary
An informative report on the working poor in Harlem and their struggles to make a living on or below the poverty level without taking advantage of the welfare system. It followed over 300 potential workers, giving family backgrounds and ethnic histories, into the job market.
Ryan
Apr 05, 2008 Ryan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This book presents an incredibly well-written and well-researched view of the working poor living in the inner city. This book uses personal stories to show the broader structural and institutionalized problems the working poor face every day. I highly recommend this book.
Laura
Dec 06, 2007 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
The book is less academic in approach than most since it is full of case studies which are much easier to read than pure theory. It was still a hard read that took longer than it probably should have, but I am glad of the perspective that it gave me.
Alicia
So goddamn long and the same points are repeated multiple times. It was interesting enough but it could have been half as long. It is, as expected, incredibly dated due to the nature of the book but the princples should hold rather steady.
Nancy
This was probably a good book to read in 1999, when it was first published. I found it so out of date that it was actually hard to read and could not complete it. I think an updated version would be much better.
Mark Kaech
Some great stories about the "working poor" in urban America. Addresses the complexities of poverty as well as looking at the issues with minimum wage, etc.
Lori
This is a required book for my social science course. I enjoyed the book, although it is also sad to read about people struggling.
Steven
A good insightful book that opens up a world to view - helps to remove the sometimes stereotypes people have of poor people.
Scott
Just started...but you know how much will I love reading what an UMC white woman has to say about poor black people in cities!
Dayna
Nov 10, 2008 Dayna added it
interesting, multi-faceted analysis of minimum wage workers (and more legit than nickel and dimed in my opinion)
Amee
don't miss this book. it's a study on how inner city jobs and income are a cyclical process. real stories.
Joshua
May 03, 2007 Joshua rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: academics
Shelves: america, class, nyc, cities
the book's argument is interesting, but it's too much of a case study to be enjoyable.
Jess
Amazing read and great insight into the struggles facing millions of Americans.
Kerri
A real eye-opener. Everyone should read this book.
Jenny Minogue
Preaching to the choir.... good but gets repetitive
Bella
Could only read 1/2. Was kinda dry and too academic.
Jewell
Jewell marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2014
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Newt Gingrich 1 3 Dec 16, 2011 08:07AM  
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  • Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor
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Katherine Newman is Professor of Sociology and James Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Author of several books on middle class economic instability, urban poverty, and the sociology of inequality, she previously taught at the University of California (Berkeley), Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton.
More about Katherine S. Newman...
The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low-Wage Labor Market The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition Falling from Grace: Downward Mobility in the Age of Affluence

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