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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Написано Barbara Ehrenreich

Озвучено Cristine McMurdo-Wallis


Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Написано Barbara Ehrenreich

Озвучено Cristine McMurdo-Wallis

оценки:
3.5/5 (169 оценки)
Длина:
8 часов
Издатель:
Издано:
13 авг. 2004 г.
ISBN:
9781436101462
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Описание

This engrossing piece of undercover reportage is a New York Times best-seller. With nearly a million copies in print, Nickel and Dimed is a modern classic that deftly portrays the plight of America’s working-class poor. Author Barbara Ehrenreich decides to see if she can scratch out a comfortable living in blue-collar America. What she discovers is a culture of desperation, where workers often take multiple low-paying jobs just to keep a roof overhead.
Издатель:
Издано:
13 авг. 2004 г.
ISBN:
9781436101462
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Об авторе

Barbara Ehrenreich (1941-2022) was a bestselling author and political activist, whose more than a dozen books included Nickel and Dimed, which the New York Times described as "a classic in social justice literature", Bait and Switch, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, Dancing In the Streets, and Blood Rites. An award-winning journalist, she frequently contributed to Harper's, The Nation, The New York Times, and TIME magazine. Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana, when it was still a bustling mining town. She studied physics at Reed College, and earned a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University. Rather than going into laboratory work, she got involved in activism, and soon devoted herself to writing her innovative journalism.


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3.7
169 оценки / 132 Обзоры
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Отзывы читателей

  • (2/5)
    not a great book. very hypocritical. easy read and interesting insights into being a house cleaner, server, and walmart employee (this part i thought was the most interesting). but she goes off about drug users/addicts and then later on goes off about how she can't find work because she can't pass a drug test. she goes into minute details of food/homeware costs, yet never mentions spending $50 for a bag of weed!

    interesting figure - "In 1990, the federal government spent $11.7 million to test 29,000 federal employees. Since only 153 tested positive, the cost of detecting a single drug user was $77,000."
  • (4/5)
    An informative read as the nation discusses fair wages, equality, and sometimes struggling to just get by. As someone who works two jobs, I identify with these women, who do everything they can to make a dent and keep moving forward.
  • (1/5)
    Not worth reading and would not recommend
  • (4/5)
    What started out as an idea for an article for Harper's quickly blossomed into a full blown New York Times bestselling book. In 1998 Barbara Ehrenreich set out to research how anyone lived on minimum wage and as she put it, "the only way to find out was to get out there and get my hands dirty" (p 4). So, at a time when welfare reform was sending millions of women back into the workforce, for three months writer-by-trade, PhD educated Ehrenreich joined the unskilled labor force to see what it was all about. The emphasis of the experiment might have been on surviving the economy of 1998 but a byproduct of that experiment was the truth that the further down the class ladder one lived, the more invisible one became. Ehrenreich tried her hand at being a waitress, a maid, a healthcare aide, and a Wal-Mart associate. It's this last position that was a real eye opener for me.In the back of my mind I wondered how "honest" Ehrenreich's experiment really was. No matter how terrible her situation she always knew she could escape it and at times, she fell back on her "real" life. When she had a skin ailment she used her real life connections to get medication without seeing a doctor.
  • (3/5)
    Although times and economic conditions have changed since Ehrenreich's experiment (it is hard to imagine that any place suffers from a labor shortage these days), the principles illustrated here stand up.
  • (3/5)
    I read this about 10 years ago, and then saw the play based on her work. At the time, I thought her work was brilliant. Of course, I was fresh out of college, full to the brim with ideas about life, none of which had any touch with reality. Now, with ten years of real world experience in my brain, I realize Ehrenreich's work is highly flawed and lopsided. The main thing that bothered me, was while congratulating herself on "living like the poor" she refused to live like them! She had to have a car and bought herself wine and $30 khaki pants. She refused jobs because she was "tired" or didn't want to do them. She constantly complained about not having TV or AC or books. She also seemed to think all supervisors were evil, as if they sat around calculating ways to dehumanize their workers. It never occurred to her the supervisors were in a similar position or to offer any kindness to them. She also complained ALL the time about drug tests. This shows a complete naivety when it comes to human nature. In the end, I think Ehrenreich's idea was a good one, but she executed it all wrong and spent to much time complaining about her lack of comforts and how hard things were, instead of trying to actually understand what poverty is.
  • (4/5)
    I have been meaning to read this book since I heard about it on NPR when it first came out but there are so many books to read, and so little time. It is a wonderful, fast read and very informative if you have never dropped in to one of these neighborhood gulags or known anyone who has been stuck there. As I read, I kept thinking that of course she can face it every day, she has the extra comfort of knowing she can always leave when it is too much or she has enough information, whichever happens first. She has never had to deal with the panic that comes with a sick child and knowing that your job is on the line if you consider for a moment not choosing your employment over your child's well-being. She has never known the gut-wrenching fear that a new noise in your old car quickly delivers to the core of your being. I would compare it to watching a movie of a roller coaster and thinking you have the whole experience. That said though, it takes a gutsy lady to take on a subject that almost no one wants to talk about, and I see that she has updated editions. I will have to read those and see if she revisited any job sites or employees and certainly the latest government figures should be interesting to look at no matter how positively they might be skewed. Thanks and gratitude to Barbara Ehrenreich for taking the time out to suffer a little and write about it.
  • (4/5)
    Although a bit dated, this book paints a very bleak picture for the working poor in the U.S. that, 14 years later, can only be more difficult. Even if you aren't interested in the nuts and bolts of trying to live on a low wage income, her conclusion at the end of the book is well worth getting it from the library.
  • (5/5)
    I'd read bits and pieces before, but this is one worth reading straight through. These are the stories that need to be told again and again until something changes. Brought up memories of my time working as a nursing assistant in a Tucson nursing home, waiting tables (badly), temp agency jobs, etc. Shelve it next to George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London.
  • (3/5)
    Overall, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book. It did open my eyes, looking at low wage work in a different way than I probably had previously. However, having worked retail for about 10 years, there were also things that Ehrenreich said at times that kind of grated on me. Granted, I think she is very up front about her own limitations as a low-wage worker, as well as about her preconceptions and her own advantages in life. At the same time, there were still moments where I felt as though she looked down upon low-wage workers, or had perspectives that I didn't quite agree with. Also, while her experiment addressed the ability (or, rather, inability) to survive on minimum wage, she also broached the topic of welfare both at the beginning and end of the book, and yet didn't really give the topic any justice.

    I do think Ehrenreich did a good job of portraying how trying the life of a low-wage worker can be, but at the same time I don't know that she gives those who work those jobs the credit they deserve. Or, she looks at one "type" of low-wage worker, almost mocking those who give their jobs their all, because she knows that this is only her life for a short time.

    I don't know that I've adequately described why I feel so conflicted over this book. Again, I could relate to many portions of it because of my years in retail, though I wasn't truly supporting myself on my retail wages for many of those years (though I was for some of them -- as management, the clear "enemy" in Ehrenreich's portrayal). I just had trouble with some of the views she took of the "big picture". Do I think corporations are often heartless and think nothing of the workers that keep the money rolling in? Yes. Do I think that managers are just vehicles of the corporate agenda? Not really, no. I think the situation is more complicated than Ehrenreich really touches on in some places, and I resented that a little bit.
  • (3/5)
    I have mixed feelings about this book, not because it isn't an incredibly important topic, or isn't well written, or gets it's factoids wrong, but because the author seems to miss the point of her own study. If this book gets people talking, then it has done what I believe it's job was. If it happens to also line the pockets of an otherwise already monetarily well off author (by her own self categorizing) who probably will never have to face a real life living situation like she pretends to live in the book... well, good for her. I do hope though after she got her pseudo first hand experience that she's empathetic enough to get involved somehow to help those millions who aren't going to get paid for telling their own real sad life story, no matter how good their literary skills are.
  • (3/5)
    This book is a good expose on the myth that the United States is a classless society, an assertion so blind that it would be comical if it were not one of the major myths perpetrated by corporate media. In fact, the newspaper series in the New York Times a couple of years ago which purported to be about class spent a good three quarters of the time trying to maintain this myth.Barbara Ehrenreich does her best to try to survive on entry-level jobs, and finds herself struggling severely. Eye opening on the level of Fast Food Nation. I read it for university. It surprised me only because I didn't grow up in a household that actually lived like Ms. Ehrenreich, which a good majority of the country does. If you didn't, you might catch some insight, but nothing more than you would working at a similar job and trying to pay rent.
  • (5/5)
    An intimate analysis of the working poor told from the point-of-view of an undercover journalist who attempted to live and work for minimum wages in three locations in the United States for three months with minimal assistance. A must read for anyone who has either worked for minimum wage or who has employed someone who does.
  • (4/5)
    No big surprises here, but still a horrifying look at the problem of the working poor in America. After going "undercover" as an unskilled worker, Ehrenreich discovers that it's just about impossible to pay for housing on $6 to $7 an hour. Ehrenreich is careful to point that her circumstances--having money in the bank to go back to, being able to pay for a doctor when she contracts a skin ailment rather than having to rely on the emergency room, being able to call it quits before she's forced to live in her car, and even having a car to begin with--make her experiences very different from those of people who don't have such resources to fall back on. The epilogue was particularly valuable in providing a broader economic and sociological perspective on why wages don't rise even when there's a shortage of unskilled labor, why the underpaid don't unionize, why people who are working full time or more are still living in poverty, and why poverty is so easily ignored by the better-off.
  • (4/5)
    I liked this book because it showed a slice of life many live in and many never see.
  • (5/5)
    Wow! The entire book was incredible- but the last chapter literally brought me to tears. As a highly educated, single mom of two adult children… with a high earning professional career… I KNOW my kids and I would not be where we are today without a financial support network (my parents) there to help us along the way. Even when I think I have worked hard and struggled… I feel certain I don’t have any idea what REAL struggle is! This book illuminates this in a way that confirms my own feelings and has compelled me to jump into action to help those referred to as the “working poor” in this book. This is an American crisis that we should all feel some responsibility for eradicating ….especially those of us who have been fortunate enough to be spared from it!!
  • (1/5)
    Like others wrote, I find this book comes across as offensive, insulting.
  • (5/5)
    I think this is an important book, many of the trends she’s discussing have only gotten worse in the past 20 years to the point that no where is affordable to live in this country, medical bankruptcies are 2/3 of all bankruptcies, credit card debt is ballooning, etc. There are times that she sounds a bit smug about her education but I think it honestly helps make her case, that even well-educated people struggle in these low wage jobs, that even with a car and $1,000 in her pocket she struggles to find housing, that she’s seen as entirely unremarkable by her bosses. It’s a good read
  • (4/5)
    Here is an in the trenches report on trying to make it in America on inadequate wages for essential work. Wake up call for $15.00 hourly wage.
  • (5/5)
    I found her deep dive into the mundane world of cheap labor refreshing. There's that sense of emptiness and futility that I see her walk through. Sure, she can walk away at the end, but she did her job as a reporter and came away with it knowing there's so many good people out there working their asses off and I think she appreciated meeting them and working alongside them.
  • (3/5)
    (Quibble: I was all of seven years old when welfare reform was instituted, so many of Ehrenreich's attacks against the reform went completely over my head. I couldn't recall anything about this legislation while reading.)

    While interesting, Ehrenreich's account never really connected with me on any level.
    Basically, the book covers three points: 1) minimum wage sucks, 2) businesses sucks, and 3) welfare reform sucks.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Way back in 1998, author Ehrenreich decided to go and try and live like the lower class did. Allowing herself a car and a $1000 in startup money, she went out to land a working class job- waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing home aide, Walmart associate- and survive on the wages. She discovered how wages didn’t cover rents, or much food, or any way to relax. Most people were working two or even three jobs just to survive. Most often, there was no affordable housing near any source of employment, and there was no affordable transportation. If a worker got ill or injured, they had no option other than to just keep on working. The working class can’t afford to miss work, even if the doctor visit was covered by insurance- and it usually wasn’t back then. Affordable child care simply didn’t exist. Of course, she wasn’t stuck in this situation. She could tap out at any time and go back to her normal existence. She didn’t live with the knowledge that she would have to live this existence for the rest of her life, with no vacation, no retirement. So she didn’t develop the despair and depression that plagues so many working class people. But she noticed it and reported it. Many people have torn down the author for ‘slumming’, because she could leave, but I feel she wrote an important book because many people were unaware of the situation the working class faced. One person could scarcely cover the entire problem. I did find some things irritating- her fear that she wouldn’t be able to ‘pass’ as a working class person, that her education would out her. Guess what- not every working class person speaks poorly, and there are such things as libraries that allow even the poor to read. One thing that I feel is important about this book is that it showed to the upper classes (if they choose to read it- hah) that even one of their own, a hard working educated woman, couldn’t make it in the system. So much for calling the working class ‘lazy’!These days, there is a lot more awareness of the problems of the working poor- but I’m not sure there is any more being done about it. Rents are higher, gasoline costs are higher, but wages are the same as they were 20 years ago. There are still huge numbers of people without health insurance. Perhaps it’s time for a reissue of this book, with an update? Five stars.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (1/5)
    A journalist tries to live off of poverty-low wage jobs. She creates the identity that her kids are grown and she's just entering the work force after being a stay at home mom.
    She didn't use resume's, but she did start out with cash savings and moved to 3 states to do this experiment.
    Part of the book was mundane and there aren't any ground shattering discoveries if any discoveries at all. What did she prove?
    I think the author believes everyone should be paid the same wage. What the woman may not know, understand or care about is, some people are quite satisfied to "settle" and never aspire to anything more than low wage jobs.
    They may gripe and complain or play the victim, (some don't), but they don't aspire or attempt to do more to do better.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Despite the fact that I've been very lucky in a lot of ways, I could write about my experiences as a waitress, a barista, and an overnight worker in a large corporation like Wal-Mart, and it would sound like I plagiarized every bit of Ehrenreich's book. This is perhaps why I am so frustrated when I engage in conversations with others about this social, economic, and moral problem; the willing ignorance of the affluent and the sheer invisibility of the working poor aren't being addressed. This predates the Occupy Wall Street movement, and it's as if you're watching the dominoes set up and getting ready to start their fall.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    Ehrenreich posed as a waitress in order to discover how the working poor in America cope financially. I expected to find an examination of the cost of living, but instead found the flip-side: the difficulty of making a living, earning an income.As with any such journalism of this type, it’s hard to truly capture the desperation of not having the luxury of back-up, knowing that, at any time, you can return to another life, job, and bank account. Ehrenreich does acknowledge these limitations.A fine effort.3½ stars
  • (3/5)
    Good book. The author's agenda shows through like a spotlight behind tissue paper.
  • (1/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I find this book to be incredibly offensive. It's written by the upper middle class for the upper middle class and comes off as condescending, in my opinion. (This, of course, makes me wonder how our studies of "third world" women would appear to them. We are dabblers in their world, can we really understand?)

    Ehrenreich's refusal to give up her entitlements (and indeed her endowments) makes it so she doesn't have to truly experience poverty. She discusses the poverty line in the Evaluation but she only complains that it measures something arbitrary; she doesn't note that what it does not measure are exactly those things that enabled her to walk out of a job when she was upset. She doesn't need the salary, she has other things to fall back on.

    From personal experience I have to say that she got quite a bit wrong. In the Introduction she wonders why when she comes out to some of her coworkers they are neither surprised nor upset, instead only ask her if this means she won't be returning for her next shift. She thinks this is because (a) writing is thought of as a hobby, not a job and (b) that she wasn't successful at fooling them. What she does not ever realize is that they ask that question because that is their primary concern. Someone is going to have to cover that shift and it could be them. It could be a godsend because they need the extra money or it could be a disaster because switched shifts means switched transportation/childcare/and a host of other issues Ehrenreich doesn't seem to acknowledge until the Evaluation.

    I've worked some of those jobs. I've been told that bathroom breaks take me away from my desk and therefore interfere with the work of the business. I've stood on my feet for 11 hour shifts snatching a dinner break on my feet in a corner of the crowded back room. I know that single mother who supports herself and three children on what she makes from working at a convenience store and a gas station and who faces financial ruin if she has to take time off because her middle son is sick. I've had my purse searched every day at the end of every shift despite my years of good work. I've been "honey" and "sweetie" and paid more than I could afford in order to meet a frequently changing dress code.

    One thing that particularly bothered me was when Ehrenreich did not stand up for George, the dishwasher who was accused of theft. She compares working at this restaurant to being in a POW camp and uses that to excuse her lack of courage. She's wrong. The fault was hers, not the job. Plenty of us have seen our coworkers falsely accused and plenty of us have stood up. Don't blame the poor and the oppressed for your own failings.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    "Nickel and Dimed" is a first-hand account of professor Ehrenreich's undercover life as a working class woman – waitressing, housecleaning and working at Walmart. With candor, Ehrenreich chronicles her journey of renting a place, finding a job and trying to balance the books at the end of the month. Set in the US, it is not, as you'd expect, an easy journey by any means.Ehrenreich writes candidly. She's very aware of her relative privilege, readily admits her failures in trying to balance her books, and even gives us a detailed account of herself when she starts losing it towards the end of several jobs. As such, the book is both eye-opening and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
  • (3/5)
    Barbara Ehrenreich, a social critic, stepped away from her life to find out the truth about living at the bottom and what that means for American prosperity. She moved to a couple different states where she was an “undercover” maid, waitress, nursing-home aide, cleaning lady, and a sales clerk at Walmart. She soon found out that even these jobs, claimed as unskilled, were exhausting mentally, and physically. She also learned that two jobs was needed if living under a roof was an essential. Diving into this book, although written in 1998, as a reader, you realize that even 15 years later this is still an issue.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Well written, smart, and brings the stark reality of the working poor to the surface. It addresses the common misconception of the poor, welfare recipients, and immigrants. It brings in the history of how the US dealt with the poor and offers insight into the discussion.

    1 person found this helpful