Essay about Barbara Ehrenreich's Research and Economic Findings in Nickel and Dimed

Essay about Barbara Ehrenreich's Research and Economic Findings in Nickel and Dimed

Length: 920 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

For her book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, Barbara Ehrenreich, a middle-aged female investigative journalist, assumed the undercover position of a newly divorced housewife returning to work after several years of unemployment. The premise for Ehrenreich to go undercover in this way was due to her belief that a single mother returning to work after years of being on welfare would have a difficult time providing for her family on a low or minimum wage. Her cover story was the closest she could get to that of a welfare mother since she had no children and was not on welfare. During the time she developed the idea for the book, “roughly four million women about to be booted into the labor market by welfare reform” were going to have to survive on a $6 or $7 an hour wage; the wage of the inexperienced and uneducated. This paper will discuss Ehrenreich's approach to the research, her discoveries, and the economic assumptions we can make based on the information presented in her book.
Ehrenreich adopted the sociologist's tool of an ethnography for her research. She became a covert participant observer while at the jobs she worked. As such, she did not expose herself as a journalist to her coworkers until the conclusion of each job. She did this in order to not experience the Hawthorne Effect; the effect that happens when people knowingly are observed and therefore change their normal habits to please the observer. While the book was an interesting read and her personal experiences enlightening to many of the low wage worker's dilemmas and alienating jobs, her pitfalls in research outweigh her strengths.
There are several inconsistencies about the situations that Ehrenreich placed herself in and the real li...


... middle of paper ...


...Even with the pitfalls in Ehrenreich's research, she managed to shine a light on the everyday plight of the low wage worker. She achieved employment at several different low wage service jobs and she also achieved friendliness with the coworkers there. Unfortunately, she could not achieve her goal of making enough money to pay the following month's rent at her accommodations, as she dictated to be her sign of success at the beginning of the project. Without this success, she can truly say that the plight of the low wage worker and the women leaving welfare is an extremely difficult one with great hardship and lack of fulfillment as these participants of the lower class work day to day to keep their chins up and make do with what, even if little, they have.


Works Cited

Ehrenreich, B. (2011). Nicke and dimed: On (not) getting by in america. New York, NY: Picador.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America Essay

- Barbara Ehrenreich's, "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America", is a book that strives to change the way America perceives its working poor. Incorporated is a journal of the time spent by the author, with her identity and Ph.D concealed, working in order to discover whether she could support a basic life style from earning minimum wage. This book brings to light general problems such as stress in the work place, lack of proper benefits, and how what was merely an experiment for Ehrenreich, is a real detriment for many others....   [tags: Book Reviews]

Better Essays
1300 words (3.7 pages)

Analysis of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

- 1.) Rhetorical Analysis – pages 1 – 19 (Introduction and part of Chapter 1) Barbara Ehrenreich’s use of logos in order to gain the reader’s support and approval was prevalent throughout this section. She clearly outlines her credibility and aptitude in the introduction of her novel - she mentions her education as well as statistical facts about hourly wages in the United States and how they will relate to her experiment. She points out her “…PhD in biology, (which she) didn’t get by sitting at a desk and fiddling with numbers” and how “According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, in 1998 it took an hourly wage of $8.89 to afford a one-bedroom apartment…the odds against a typical wel...   [tags: Wages, Poor]

Better Essays
2325 words (6.6 pages)

Nickel And Dimed By Barbara Ehrenreich Essay

- Nickel and Dimed book Response Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich was a very thought provoking book to read. The author spent a year of her life working several low paying jobs, and staying in low quality facilities. She hoped to share year long journey with the world in order to show how these types of workers live and how they are viewed by the upper class. After reading this book, I learned many things from the author and made connections to my own life. This book also helped me look at businesses in a different way....   [tags: Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich]

Better Essays
720 words (2.1 pages)

Nickel And Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich Essay

- Nickel And Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich Why should we be the ones to pay for someone to sit around at home. The answer is one simple word, welfare. There are many reasons why people mooch on welfare, rather than going out and working. The only jobs these people are qualified for are minimum wage jobs. As Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, worked at minimum wage paying jobs and reported the hardships that people had to go through on a day-to-day basis. A critic responded by saying, “This is simply the case of an academic who is forced to get a real job…” Ehrenriech’s reasoning for joining the working-class is to report why people who mite be on welfare, continue to stay on welfar...   [tags: Barbara Ehrenreich Nickel Dimed]

Better Essays
1376 words (3.9 pages)

Barbara Ehrenreich 's Nickel And Dimed Essay

- The American dream is defined as “...the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative” (Oxford Dictionary). The guarantee of economic and social opportunity attracts hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the United States and allows this nation to be so prosperous. As time has gone on, however, the American Dream dwindles to just a whisper of the past. Although there are still many hard working Americans, the success of each individual no longer correlates to the degree of effort that American’s put into their line of work, proving the barriers that separate many from a successful lifestyle....   [tags: Nickel and Dimed, Poverty, Employment]

Better Essays
1042 words (3 pages)

Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed Essay

-      Barbara Ehrenreich is a journalist who wrote the book Nickel and Dimed. She goes undercover to see how it feels to work for $6 to $7 an hour. She leaves her regular life to explore the experiences of a minimum wage worker. Ehrenreich travels to Florida, Maine, and Minnesota, looking for jobs and places to live on a minimum wage salary. At one point in time, she had to work two jobs to makes ends meet. As she worked all these jobs, she discovered many problems in the social world. The things she went through were not the types of situations that she usually experienced....   [tags: Barbara Ehrenreich Nickel Dimed Essays]

Better Essays
1625 words (4.6 pages)

Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America Essay

- Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America Barbara Ehrenreich is a political/social journalist and writer. She is a best-selling author with a dozen book credits to her name. Her works include Blood Rites, The Worst Years of Our Lives, and Fear of Falling. She also has written articles for Time, Harpers, The New Republic, The Nation, and The New York Time Magazine. Her Ph.D. in biology endows her with the experience and discipline to approach as a scientific experiment the study resulting in her newest book, Nickel and Dimed....   [tags: Barbara Ehrenreich Nickel and Dimed]

Better Essays
1005 words (2.9 pages)

Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed Essay

- Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed In the novel Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehnreich, there are many hurtles she must overcome to experience the life of a low income worker. She sets some ground rules for herself, such as always having a car, and starting out with a certain amount of money for her down payment on an apartment. Although the rules are doable, she admits that she broke all of the rules at least once. Even though Barbara didn't hold to her original plan, she was still able to reveal her appeals clearly....   [tags: Ehrenreich Nickel Dimed]

Better Essays
1069 words (3.1 pages)

Nickel and Dimed by Barbra Ehrenreich Essay

- Nickel and Dimed, by Barbra Ehrenreich, depicts the truth about low-income living in the United States. But rather than just writing about it, she actually did it. She chose various places across the country to conduct her observation and participation. She did what very few people would have had the courage to do. Hopefully, her book will change the way people look at low-wage work and possibly even change, for the better, the way low-income workers live their lives everyday. When reading the book, there were many examples of all four principals of McDonaldization throughout....   [tags: Ehrenreich Nickel Dimed]

Better Essays
1963 words (5.6 pages)

Nickel And Dimed: Book Review Essay

- Can someone really live and prosper in American receiving minimal income. Can someone create a good lifestyle for themselves on just six to seven dollars an hour. In Nickel and Dimed Barbara Ehrenreich goes undercover to find out if it is indeed possible. Giving herself only $1,000 she leaves the lifestyle that she has come accustomed too and goes to join all the people living the low class way of life. Before setting out, she gave herself a list of rules she had to follow so that her experience would be as real as it could be....   [tags: Nickel Dimed Book Review]

Better Essays
1149 words (3.3 pages)