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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in…
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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001)

by Barbara Ehrenreich

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,312160374 (3.73)177
  1. 30
    The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson (zhejw)
    zhejw: In the 1990s, Barbara Ehrenreich goes "undercover" to discover how low wage workers (don't) get by. In the next decade, Lisa Dodson tells the stories of some such workers and their children, but focuses her time on those who supervise and serve them, subverting the system to help.… (more)
  2. 20
    Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado (4leschats)
    4leschats: Both deal with the cyclical nature of poverty and its ability to trap people.
  3. 20
    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (WoodsieGirl)
    WoodsieGirl: To see how little things change...
  4. 10
    Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam W. Shepard (amyblue)
  5. 11
    Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan (Othemts)
    Othemts: A pair of books that show the conditions for the worker in America's least desirable jobs.
  6. 00
    Mcquaig Linda : Canada'S Social Welfare by Linda McQuaig (bhowell)
  7. 01
    Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki (readysetgo)
    readysetgo: An opposing view to the fatalistic tone of this book.
  8. 03
    Pe sub poduri by Mike Yankoski (infiniteletters)
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» See also 177 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
Outside my townhouse, somebody dumped a box of new books into my trash bin (rude!). Their loss is my gain; this was one of the books in the mix (an obvious college textbook) but what a great read. It makes me want to do what she did - what an adventure! ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
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. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
A Ph.d's actual experiment on whether she could live on minimum wage. She couldn't. The conclusion: People can't get by with just a high school education and minimum wage jobs. A must read! ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
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. ( )
1 vote klack128 | Oct 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
We have Barbara Ehrenreich to thank for bringing us the news of America's working poor so clearly and directly, and conveying with it a deep moral outrage and a finely textured sense of lives as lived.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Ehrenreichprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guglielmina, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gustafsson, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mostly out of laziness, I decide to start my low-wage life in the town nearest to where I actually live, Key West, Florida, which, with a population of about 25,000 is elbowing its way up to the status of a genuine city.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Very interesting, appalling narration and discussion of the writer's foray into living as does America's employed underclass, the working poor. Learning to do new tasks at each new poorly paid position, knowing no one, and unable to pay rent, eat, and take care of the bills is the daily norm for millions in this position and Ms. Ehrenreich tells it -- and shows it -- like it is.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805063897, Paperback)

Essayist and cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich has always specialized in turning received wisdom on its head with intelligence, clarity, and verve. With some 12 million women being pushed into the labor market by welfare reform, she decided to do some good old-fashioned journalism and find out just how they were going to survive on the wages of the unskilled--at $6 to $7 an hour, only half of what is considered a living wage. So she did what millions of Americans do, she looked for a job and a place to live, worked that job, and tried to make ends meet.

As a waitress in Florida, where her name is suddenly transposed to "girl," trailer trash becomes a demographic category to aspire to with rent at $675 per month. In Maine, where she ends up working as both a cleaning woman and a nursing home assistant, she must first fill out endless pre-employment tests with trick questions such as "Some people work better when they're a little bit high." In Minnesota, she works at Wal-Mart under the repressive surveillance of men and women whose job it is to monitor her behavior for signs of sloth, theft, drug abuse, or worse. She even gets to experience the humiliation of the urine test.

So, do the poor have survival strategies unknown to the middle class? And did Ehrenreich feel the "bracing psychological effects of getting out of the house, as promised by the wonks who brought us welfare reform?" Nah. Even in her best-case scenario, with all the advantages of education, health, a car, and money for first month's rent, she has to work two jobs, seven days a week, and still almost winds up in a shelter. As Ehrenreich points out with her potent combination of humor and outrage, the laws of supply and demand have been reversed. Rental prices skyrocket, but wages never rise. Rather, jobs are so cheap as measured by the pay that workers are encouraged to take as many as they can. Behind those trademark Wal-Mart vests, it turns out, are the borderline homeless. With her characteristic wry wit and her unabashedly liberal bent, Ehrenreich brings the invisible poor out of hiding and, in the process, the world they inhabit--where civil liberties are often ignored and hard work fails to live up to its reputation as the ticket out of poverty. --Lesley Reed

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:02 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Millions of Americans work full-time, year-round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- could be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on six to seven dollars an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered as a woefully inexperienced homemaker returning to the workforce. So began a grueling, hair raising, and darkly funny odyssey through the underside of working America. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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