Essay Barbara Ehrenreich 's Nickel And Dimed

1080 Words Sep 6th, 2016 5 Pages
Does the United States truly support its citizens and allow them to prosper? In Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, Ehrenreich investigates this question by living as a low-wage worker for three months in cities around the United States. Her experiences teach her that as her jobs change, so does her place in society. Nickel and Dimed effectively argues that low-wage jobs severely restrict the workers’ mobilities and that American society does not properly support the poor. Instead, it forces citizens to live isolating lives that discourage them from seeking a better standard of living. After reflecting on her experiences, Ehrenreich learns that because she works “unskilled” labor, her place in society changes. Her mobility becomes restricted, and the freedoms she has taken for granted while living in the upper-middle class have disappeared. Now, her new $7-an-hour paycheck severely limits where she can go and with whom she interacts. Where she lives determines where she works; while there may be cheaper housing in the city, it is on the outskirts of town and far from any available work. Because of this lifestyle change, Ehrenreich’s definition of place becomes transient and inconsistent. Depending on rent, a home can last for a day or for weeks, and it is seen mainly as a resting point in between working hours. Ehrenreich clearly explains her dilemma when she states, “I need a job and an apartment, but to get a job I need an address…

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