Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
The bestselling, landmark work of undercover reportage, now updated
Acclaimed as an instant classic upon publication, Nickel and Dimed has sold more than 1.5 million copies and become a staple of classroom reading. Chosen for “one book” initiatives across the country, it has fueled nationwide campaigns for a living wage. Funny, poignant, and passionate, this revelatory
How do I resent thee? Let me count the ways:
1. You are a wealthy, highly educated person who went on a half-assed, anthropological slumming vacation.
2. When said vacation was over, you told your coworkers: "Surprise! I'm not a poor person after all! I'm going back now to my comfortable life!"...and then you were surprised that those coworkers were mostly worried about the fact that they'd have to work the next shift with one less person.
3. You also were surprised that th ...more
I have experience working with and researching programs that aid the poor and working poor. I hated this book. The only role it could play is as a weak talking piece for starting up serious discussion about the struggles and needs of the poor.
Barbara Ehrenreich may have stepped outside her comfort zone and into the world of the working poor, but she did it with an educated background, with money "just in case", with a pompous attitude, and with the requirement ...more
Things I liked:
Things I hated:
1. Her shocked tone of discovery. Newsflash! Living on minimum wage is hard/nigh on impossible! Educated people have it pretty easy comparatively! Entry level minimum ...more
In the late 1990s, the author (I've enjoyed some of her other books) decided to explore the challenges of low-wage American workers by pretending to live and work like one of them in three areas of the country. She gave herself a small amount of cash at the start of each journey, a ...more
First the positive:
- Interesting premise: writer decides to try to live on the wages that unskilled workers (waitresses, home/hotel cleaners, department store [Walmart, for instance] clerks) earn to see if she can do it and see if she learns anything in the process.
- She exposes some very unethical (even illegal) employer practices such as withholding a worker’s first paycheck until the second pay period.
- She notes so ...more
I've seen very put-downish reviews here on GR about the book, and more so about the author.
It's held that Ehrenreich was a fake, had no idea what the working poor face, was just trying to make a buck off them, the book totally discredited because she had money and could just walk away when she was finished, or if she got in trouble, yada yada.
This sort o ...more
She tries to make ends meet on the following jobs: waitressing, hotel housekeeping, Maid Service, nursing-home attendant, and Wal-Mart employee, often working two jobs at a time.
This shocking exposé reveals the horrific conditions that the "working poor" toil under. Well, at least they're shocking to someone who's never had to struggle to make ends me ...more
Before I started this book I really worried. I mean, I’m a bit of a worrier anyway – b ...more
First of all, Barbara Ehrenreich has a horribly privileged, ivory tower view of how poor people must live. While she does talk to some people who are scraping by, she assumes the majority of poor people make the same crummy decisions as the few to who ...more
Welfare reform in the mid-1990s was meant to get people off the welfare rolls and into the workforce. As the U.S. had a strong economy at the time, and jobs were plentiful, this was supposed to work out pretty well all around. The problem was that most 'unskilled jobs' paid minimum wage (which was six to seven dollars/hour at the time) and this just wasn't enough to support a parent and child - much less a larger family.
In 1998 Barbara Ehrenreich - a political activist and writer - decided to t ...more
There are some interesting issues covered, such as wage inequalities and the plight of the urban poor, but that's really all I can say in its favor. The ...more
"Nickel and Dimed" has been on my radar for years. It's considered a modern classic in several disciplines, including journalism, sociology and economics. Starting in 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich spent several months working low-wage jobs in different cities around the United States in an attempt to experience what it was like to be one of America's working poor. She wondered how anyone could possibly live on wages available to the unskilled, which at the time was a ...more
What was the publisher thinking? Letting a biology Ph.d write an economics book. There are so many economic inaccuracies in this book they are too numerous to mention. The most important theory she mangles is that she thinks wages she should be raised even if there are enough employees to hire at piss-poor wages. She believes that (she eludes to it, but never makes the point clearly) it is the employers responsibility to provide enough wage to make sure everyone ...more
She makes a lot of great points, but the style she does it with is totally condescending. She's so pleased with her own concept that she cannot help but remind readers at least every ten or so pages that she's actually very highly educated. "You might think ...more
I was also earning a whopping $5.83 an hour, and reading this book just made me grind my teeth.
Totally fatuous piece of crap. It STILL ticks me off.
I felt like she was so patronizing and rude. It seemed like yet another case of some stupid rich white person talking about the plight of the poor and the downtrodden, all while doing absolutely NOTHING to help alleviate it. Not to mention whining about how hard it is. URGH.
I don't see this book as even trying to be any kind of an exhaustive look at all the difficulties facing those truly living in poverty and attempting to get by.
What I do see it as is an attempt to prove to middle-income Americans that even with all the benefi ...more
Unfortunately, Ehrenreich did not present much shocking or new information in her ...more
Author Barb Ehrenreich's (as in Third Reich) personal politics seem to lie somewhere on the spectrum between Chairman ...more
Ehrenreich turns her gimlet eye on the view from the workforce's bottom rung. Determined to fi ...more
While Nickel and Dimed is interesting and in some ways eye-opening, it isn’t a particularly well-researched or well-argued economic or social commentary. It’s more of a journalism feature with some editorial opinions thrown in. The rhetoric ...more
Minimum wage jobs in the U.S. suck ... big time ... especially waitress ...more
I find sometimes that people are surprised that I would recommend this book (albeit with a couple of reservations). Somehow the fact that I'm a political conservative is supposed to make me unable to identify with low income workers or those called the working poor.
Why? I struggled with long periods of unemployment...with a family. I've flipped burgers in several restaurants and several times. I've worked in family r ...more
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