The book, Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich, expresses Ehrenreich’s experience to go undercover to evaluate the life of a low wage worker. Ehrenreich leaves her normal life to travel to Florida, Maine, Minnesota to earn a job as a minimum wage worker. Throughout her experience she understands the realm of poverty, solidarity, and the comparison of democracy or tyranny.
Summary of Argument
The main arguments expressed within the book is poverty, solidarity, and the comparison of democracy or tyranny Ehrenreich wanted to conduct an experiment using herself to manage to pay rent, bills, and food as a minimum wage worker. Upon her arrival in Florida, Ehrenreich is hired as a waitress. She then rents a trailer but notices that she won’t have enough money to pay the next installment of rent. To solve this problem, Ehrenreich decides to get a second job, a hotel maid, to make ends meet. But Ehrenreich must persistently check the prices and cost to ensure whether she will have enough for later. Another problem encountered throughout her experiment was solidarity. While working as a maid, Ehrenreich witnesses the abuse her coworkers live up to every day. For example, Ted, the boss, didn’t give a coworker a day off despite her breaking her foot. But the coworker pushes through the pain because they don’t want to lose a day of pay. Within that pay, it is questioned whether they have enough money for a day of food. She expresses this experience as a defeat. Lastly, Ehrenreich’s discusses how to workforce is weighed in favoring more tyranny or democracy. Ehrenreich’s notices that the country is supporting more of the wealthiest Americans and discouraging the poor. Workers were breaking the law working through injures from work. Or making it illegal at work discussing how much they were getting paid from one another. For example, at Walmart’s orientation is described as a cult also pushing workers to stay occupied despite not having anything to do.
About the Author
Barbara Ehrenreich was born on August 26, 1941 in Butte, Montana. Ehrenreich and her parents acquired the middle-class level. Throughout her experiences, she wondered of the maintenance of stability of the lower, suffering class. This inspired her to leave her life behind to go undercover for 3 months living as the poor. Ehrenreich considers herself as a veteran muckraker, who exposes and attacks corruption for the public to evaluate.
Summary of Contents
Ehrenreich used both quantitative and qualitative methods throughout her entire experiment. With her involvement for the experiment, she used participation observation from her surroundings. This experiment has independent and dependent variables too. The independent variables were the different jobs Ehrenreich had held throughout those 3 months. The dependent variable was the way of living resulted in.
Ehrenreich expresses the reality of the suffering of the low- wage working class. It hits home to anyone who isn’t as fortunate with money than the wealthiest class. Also, making the audience think how a job is the answer of escaping poverty. This reveals how unfair the system is and how it is against those in the low class.
Although, Ehrenreich exposes the harsh realities of the low-wage working class but doesn’t fully commit to the experience. For example, in chapter 1, she reveals that she starts off with more than $1000.00 dollars. She tends to cheat in the beginning of the experiment by having an advantage, but it would’ve made it more rational if it was a couple of hundred dollars to start with.
Overall, I appreciate the author’s braveness to do an experiment of working in a different social class that others may not have the courage to experience. Ehrenreich significant offering by working is that jobs have no progression in the public based on her experiences. This theory from the book mirrors the actuality of society. It demonstrates the inequalities in the workforce and distribution of resources for people in our society is treated unfairly.