Nickel and Dime, Barbara Ehrenreich

Topics: Nickel and Dimed, Wage, Poverty Pages: 2 (564 words) Published: October 17, 2012
“Is it really possible to make a living on the kind of jobs currently available to unskilled people?”

In 1996 federal legislation implemented a welfare reform that required unskilled poor adults to work in labor market in order to qualify for cash assistance. In the expo, Nickel and Dime, Barbara Ehrenreich questioned the “uplifting benefits” of unskilled adults working in a low-wage economy. Ehrenreich’s undercover journalism was her scientific methodology of choice to capture firsthand the experience of poverty in order to prove her theory that it is mathematically impossible for welfare recipients to survive in the low-wage workforce.

While following Barbara Ehrenreich journey in “Nickel and Dimed” I realized how certain aspects of a society can determine economic or personal success. Money and wealth are needed to accomplish many things that make a person powerful. These patterns of inequality structure society into different levels or social strata. Barbara Ehrenreich went out to prove that lower class individuals are struggling due to limited means and social inequality. Ehrenreich’s social-conflict theory implies that society is structured to benefit a few at the expense of the majority. This is the indicator as to why poverty is the factor in keeping the unskilled powerless. For instance, education is the form of power where money is needed to accomplish. Therefore, unskilled adults will never be able to progress in the jobs currently available to them.

Barbara Ehrenreich first establish credibility of her knowledge of economic living conditions for poor adults to prove to her audience that she in fact has done her research on this topic. She researched that in 1998 the National Coalition for the Homeless reported that the necessary wage on average nationwide would be $8.89 in order to afford a one bedroom apartment and that the odds of common welfare recipients landing a job that pays such a “living wage” were about 97 to 1. Ehrenreich...
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