Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on a summary of the book (ehrenreich, barbara. nickel and dimed: on not getting by in america. new ). The demands of the present age have resulted in rock bottom changes in the lifestyles, some good and mostly destroying harmony in societal terms. Some sections of the society may be gainers, but by and large, the poor have been rendered poorer. In this book, “Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America” Barbara Ehrenreich lives though some of the grim experiences of the lower strata of the society. Her sufferings are self-inflicted but that is to serve the cause of her writing and to make the society aware as to what really is happening. She is a practicing educationalist and what she does is for passion and to achieve her objectives. She works like a labor, and a researcher bent upon knowing the truth. She hides many facets of abilities and her real identity remains incognito. She accepts low-earning jobs at three cities in America, Maine, Florida and Minnesota. She goes through many hardships but she has the psychological support of her ATM card! Barbara gets ready for job-hunt: The experience gained in hunting the job is often invaluable to her than the job itself. Many rejections fall to her lot. She is undeterred and moves to the next destination. She writes, “My next stop is Winn-Dixie, the supermarket, which turns out to have a particularly onerous application process, featuring a twenty minute “interview” by computer since, apparently, no human on the premises is deemed capable of representing the corporate point of view. ….” (p.13) The question paper is probing, humorous and humiliating. Her description of the procedure is vivid and realistic. You think you are an actor in her drama. She introduces the pathetic working conditions, frustrating ambience, and the verbal slangs of the foul-mouthed arrogant bosses. To think of serving in such conditions for a long time, is tortuous. The workers bear silently what falls to their lot, as they have no other alternative. The contents of the book have been arranged in 6 chapters, Introduction: Getting Ready, Serving in Florida, Scrubbing in Maine, Selling in Minnesota, Evaluation and A Reader’s Guide. In the evaluation chapter she sums up her experiences and gives her judgment. The revelations are startling and provide good research material for the sociologists, labor leaders and the policy makers. Some of the so-called “unskilled’ jobs demand tiring physical labor, with the possibility of affecting health. The performance has no corresponding rewards and exploitation of labor is part of the system. She comments, “Then trick lies in figuring out how to budget your energy so there’ll be some left over for the next day” (p. 195). She concludes that multiple jobs are the economic necessity for those in the lower rungs of the society, to make both the ends meet. Luxuries are out of question. The never-ending tussle between the labor and management She believes, the labor class is mostly suspected and their integrity is on continuous scrutiny. The tests for employment and the related questionnaires often prick the conscience and they are drafted to hurt the candidate. She makes special mention of the surveillance by the staff at Wal-Mart and they are looking for theft, drug abuse etc. in her.

 

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