Essay about Nickel And Dimed By Barbara Ehrenreich

Essay about Nickel And Dimed By Barbara Ehrenreich

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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, published in 2001 by Barbara Ehrenreich, is a book about an author who goes undercover and examines lives of the working lower class by living and working in similar conditions. Ehrenreich sets out to learn how people survive off of minimum wage. For her experiment, she applies rules including that she cannot use skills acquired from her education or work during her job search. She also must take the highest-paying job offered to her and try her best to keep it. For her search of a home, she has to take the cheapest she can find. For the experiment, Ehrenreich took on low-wage jobs in three cities: in Florida, Maine, and Minnesota.
The book displays two social concepts, conflict theory and structural-functionalism. Conflict theory is defined as “a theory propounded by Karl Marx that claims society is in a state of perpetual conflict due to competition for limited resources” (Investopedia 2005). Conflict theory holds that social order is maintained by domination and power, rather than consensus and conformity. Structural-functionalism is defined as “a sociological theory that attempts to explain why society functions the way it does by focusing on the relationships between the various social institutions that make up society (e.g., government, law, education, religion,etc)” (Wikibooks 2005). Ehrenreich exposes the reality of the gap between the leisure and working class, and the struggles that the working class experiences such as getting food, safety, and security.
The continuously growing gap between the leisure and working class has many causes, but they all affect society as a whole regardless of one’s class or status. The effects of this economic inequality includes things ...


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..., so that the children of others will be cared for. They live in below average housing so other homes will remain shiny and perfect. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor to the rich, which Ehrenreich concludes at the completion of her experiment.
I agree with Ehrenreich that the working poor are "taking one for the team". They work in a state of physical labor for companies that often don’t respect them as employees, for example the hotel Ehrenreich worked for. They sacrifice themselves by working jobs that could potentially help them to advance in society, but are unaware of it because they feel that they are unable to advance in society. The conflict theory and structural-functionalism applies to both Ehrenreich 's book and society today due to economic inequality and will continue to be an issue members of the working class must face.

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