Book report on Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich for Social Anthropology.

Essay by skampfCollege, Undergraduate March 2005

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Nickel and Dimed is purported to be an investigative report on unskilled workers in the United States. How do welfare reform unskilled workers survive on minimum wages and do they have secrets for surviving. Barbara Ehrenreich allows herself a small amount of money for startup, and then proceeds to find work and a place to live in three different cities. Key West, Florida finds her working as a waitress, and a second job as a housekeeper in a hotel. In Portland Maine she works as a nursing home aid and house cleaning for a major housecleaning chain. Twin Cities Minnesota finds her working for Wal-Mart.

I used the word purported, because I am not sure whether she was investigating the unskilled workers, or whether she wanted to see if she could make it on minimum wages. For it to be a truly investigative report, she would not have been able to fall back on her ATM card, rental car (even Rent a Wreck), lap top computer, or seed money.

The book was written about Barbara Ehrenreich, not about unskilled workers or minimum wages. She worked for a month in each of these cities, working with the same people day after day, but she made no friends. Friends and family get us through the rough times. I am one of those baby boomers who were raised in a single parent household. I watched my Mother work in factories, earning only enough money for us to get by. I remember as a child not having enough to eat, and my mother putting a blanket over the door to the kitchen, because the stove was the only heat we had. I would watch my mother cry, when she thought my brother and I were sleeping, because she did not know where our...