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

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Date: Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by In America In her book, Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich explores the situation of the working poor in the United States from the viewpoint of an undercover journalist. Ehrenreich uses his book to bring the plight of the poor community out in the public…
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Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America
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Download file to see previous pages She believes that the poor may rise up at any time and demand proper rights from the society. However, Ehrenreich has met with considerable criticism regarding these views. Her views have been contradicted as being baseless. Critics point out that people can survive in society even when they are earning minimum wages. An example of this is Adam Sheppard who took the content of the book seriously and set out on a journey to survive with just $25. Sheppard was not just able to survive but he was also able to land a good job, proving Ehrenreich to be wrong in her findings. In this paper, we attempt to understand whether the findings of Ehrenreich are applicable in my own city, Virginia Beach considering the cost of living while supporting a family of two children. Obstacles Faced by the Working Poor Barbara Ehrenreich has explored different problems faced by the working poor in order to survive in contemporary society. She believes that it is the working poor that are being exploited in the capitalist society. This is because these working poor have been deprived of their basic necessities that include proper housing and sanitation; proper food, proper access to health care and the right of respect. In terms of the right of respect, the working poor are subjected to work that does not allow them to explore their potential mental capacity. They are given monotonous work that requires little input from these people. They just have to follow orders and when they just follow orders; their brains are not allowed to function to the capacity it is meant to function. Furthermore, the superiors of this working class consider them on the lowest level of the organization, meant to take orders only. Their suggestions are not taken in, even though they may provide valuable suggestions. Rather they are given one order after another without considering their input in the organization. The input of the working class is often ignored by many and they are instead degraded by the superiors for their lack of initiative and proper education, which they cannot afford without the help of the superiors. The superiors of this working class do not hesitate to call a meeting at their slightest inclination. The purpose of such meetings is usually to reprimand or degrade the workers on the quality of their work or their working habits. Ehrenreich here uses the example of her boss, Phillip who keeps on calling such meetings and does not feel any remorse at dealing with his subordinates in such a manner (Ehrenreich, 24). The work required to be done by the working class is considered to be unskilled and thus does not require a high pay scale. Ehrenreich argues that such unskilled work requires great stamina by the working class who have to continue with the degrading work day in and day out. Unskilled work of this kind also requires focus on the workers as well as sharp memory and quick learning. Thus the work of the unskilled labor is not unskilled but rather more taxing than the work on the respected class. The skills required in such unskilled work include a good memory, a strong stamina and a high amount of learning (Ehrenreich, 18). Ehrenreich also brings to attention the fact that there is a dark side to the signs of help wanted posted on the walls and doors of shops, homes and organization. Even though these places would hire ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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